The RSPCA tells me that there are a million stray cats in the UK. And I know there are also a million of us full-time, unpaid carers.
Have a think about this for a moment. The two facts should not be mutually exclusive.
Yet when was the last time your Facebook timeline was filled with pictures of suffering family carers? with piteous appeals from charities whose only aim is to make carers’ life better (“Carrie has not slept a full night for ten years. Could you give up a little of your precious time to help her?“)? with exhortations not to forget at this festive season? with appeals for time, funding, volunteers? I’m not really asking you this question. We all know the answer.
Chums – let me tell you, an unpaid family carer may need funding, support, volunteers quite as much as a cat. Maybe – speak it low – more. Have a look around you. One of every 64 people you know is a 24/7 carer, working up to 168 hours in the week (and there are only 168 hours in the week). Do you recognise them? They are probably the people you don’t actually see that often, because they can’t leave the person they care for. They are the people who lead a poorer life than yourself, because it is so had to fit career around full-time caring. They are the people with the bags under their eyes. The ones you think, briefly, “Gosh, I guess it sucks to be you,” as you drive past them on your way to book your regular winter holiday. The ones you rather admire because they ‘soldier on,’ because you haven’t thought about what options or support they might have not to soldier on. The ones to who all employment rights are denied.
The ones held to ransom because successive governments found it much easier and cheaper to patronise than to face up to the economic costs of family care.
I fancy making a set of LOLCareh memes. A picture of my sleepless-for-13-years eyebags (I CAN HAZ RESPITE?) would be a winner. And maybe we could produce a line of “I WUV YOU, CAREH” sweatuhs for Christmas.
Maybe we could start a trend?