It’s now over 17 years since my daughter dropped like a stone as I baked her birthday cake – and in a blink of an eye we went from real people in our own right with lives to lead and places to go, to carer and cared for: symbols, stereotypes, political footballs -people who were somehow less important, less valued than others. We lost friends, we lost caste, we lost identity.
After all, there’s nothing interesting about being on duty, keeping someone safe and well against the odds around the clock all day, every day without a break. Step away, folks, nothing to see over here.
Yet there’s 7 million carers in Britain and the number is rising.
You become a carer in a heartbeat. It could happen to you tomorrow.
17 years and (despite the I-Daniel-Blakeian hopes of the DWP) my daughter is no better. These days I now also look after my mother .
I love and support my daughter and want her to have the best life possible. I could not turn my back on my mother. But over these years, caring has had a huge toll on my own health, career, income and personal life. It has also had a profound effect on the lives of my other children. Yet I am one of the lucky ones because I have been able to fit some work freelance around my daughter’s condition. Many carers with immense capacities and skills are having to abandon them, their own identities – and everything they could offer society – in order to look after those they love, because the government would rather have them earning nothing and shouldering 24/7 care than sort out out a system for looking after people more efficiently and humanely.
I am horrified at the sheer waste of talent and ability. I am back and campaigning for change!