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Guest Post: I care about……

Guest blog from Claire Cairns, coordinator of Coalition of Carers in Scotland

With the Scottish elections being held on the 5th of May, Scotland will soon be gripped by election fever.

Party manifestos will be unveiled and candidates and campaigners will aim to convince us that their party holds the solutions to the issues that matter most to us.

We know that health, education, the economy and employment will all feature at the top of the agenda. People will weigh up what each party has to say and inevitable ask themselves the question ‘How will this effect me’

But I hope that with this election people will also be asking themselves – ‘What sort of society do I want to live in?’ ‘How does it respond to people when they need support? What happens when someone develops a serious health issue, gives birth to a child with a disability or becomes a carer for a loved one? What happens when you get older and need help with everyday living?

There is an unspoken assumption that most people have, that when they need help they will be cared-for and supported by the state. It is only when they try to access help that they often find they have to battle to get support and the process for accessing help is confusing and arduous.

We care

Scotland’s 749,000 unpaid carers provide the majority of care in Scotland, the support they provide would cost £10.8 Billion to replace. The last census revealed that carers are caring for more hours than they did previously, with 171,000 people caring for 35 hours or more a week.

There is increasing pressure on people to take on more unpaid care for family members. This can impact on their employment prospects, social opportunities, their finances and ultimately their health.

There is also more pressure on people who require care to manage with as little support as possible, even when this impacts on their ability to lead an independent life and engage in their local community.

As local authorities face ongoing cuts, the money available for social care is shrinking and services are being cut, which is why unpaid carers are being pressured to pick up the slack. This impacts on woman in particular, who are more likely to take on unpaid care and more likely to give up employment when they do.

We all need to care about this, not just the people who are in this position now, because almost everyone will either give or receive care at some point in their lives.

We have a choice to make, we can either look after our own interests and keep our fingers crossed that it won’t happen to us, or as a society we can commit to sharing the burden, even if that means paying a bit more in our taxes to cover the costs. So that people can access timely, quality support when they need it and their family members who help to care for them, get the support they need as well.

You can show that you care about carers by tweeting your support to #fairerforcarers or by giving candidates the message I care – do you?

Check out Engender's 20 for 2016 asks around Care

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