Why Carers Rights Day matters to Croydon

By - Tuesday 22nd November, 2016

Caring for Croydon’s carers

Photo public domain.

John looks after his elderly mother, who lives alone. She’s become very frail over the past year and has multiple health issues. John is constantly rushing around, trying to make sure his mother is okay whilst holding down a full-time job. The stress is starting to take a toll on John’s performance at work, and he fears he may lose his job, putting a massive strain on his finances. He worries about the future – and feels his mother is starting to need more support than he can give.

John does not know it, but he is a carer. He is entitled to a Carer’s Assessment of his own needs for support. He can ask for flexible working hours to help him juggle his work and care responsibilities. His mother can have her care needs assessed by the council. If she’s eligible, a care package can be put into place so she has care workers visiting her to help her with washing and dressing. John and his mother may be entitled to certain benefits and other financial support as well.

Helping carers find out what their rights are

John is not a real person – but his story is fairly typical of real carers out there. Too often it’s left up to the carer, already over-stretched by multiple responsibilities, to do their own fact-finding and navigate their way through a confusing maze of bureaucracy. As a result, many people end up missing out on vital support and help.

Carers Rights Day is an opportunity for carers to find out how to get the help and support they are entitled to. In Croydon, carers can visit the Carers Support Centre on George Street on Friday 25th November for Carers Rights Day to pick up an information pack and a Carers Rights Guide. The centre is open to carers Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm. Carers who can’t visit the centre can get in touch by phone on 020 8648 9339, option 1, or by email at

The fight for recognition

Whilst there is still a lot to do to ensure carers’ rights are what they should be, we have already come a long way. In 1963, the Reverend Mary Webster wrote a letter to the press about her struggle to hold down a job whilst caring for her ageing parents. She became a pioneer of the carers’ rights movement, founding the National Council for the Single Woman and Her Dependents (NCSWD), which later became the national carers’ charity, Carers UK.

Since then, carers have fought for greater financial and legal rights. In 1996, carers won the right for their own needs to be recognised in law for the first time. Only last year, the Care Act came into force, placing stronger legal duties on local authorities to assess the needs of any carer who needs support.

Carers’ rights under threat

The UK has led the world in highlighting the needs of carers… But it risks falling behind internationally…” Sue Yeandle, Caring for our carers: An international perspective on policy developments in the UK

Despite the track record of success, carers’ rights are in danger of going backwards rather than forwards. According to this year’s national State of Caring report from Carers UK, two-thirds of carers said they struggle to make ends meet, and over half said they expected their quality of life to get worse over the coming year. [State of Caring 2016, Carers UK]. The Care Act’s promise to deliver information and advice to carers has still not been realised for many. Only 35 per cent of carers who had a Carer’s Assessment ‘were told how to get all the information and advice about their caring role they felt they needed…’ [State of Caring 2016, Carers UK]

The future of caring?

With so many carers on the brink, the question remains – where do we go from here?

The first step is helping carers find out what they are entitled to, which is where awareness-raising days like Carers Rights Day on Friday 25th November come in. But better information is only one piece of the puzzle. With stretched local and national government budgets, and a health and care system already under strain, the challenge is now to ensure that carers’ voices aren’t lost amidst the noise. There are over six million carers in the UK, and the number keeps rising. We cannot afford to ignore them.

Amy Deakin

Amy Deakin

Amy Deakin is the Communications and Publications Officer at the Croydon Carers Support Centre, a drop in advice centre for unpaid carers based in George Street, Croydon town centre.

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