Brighton carer speaks out at House of Commons event

Posted On 18 Jun 2010 at 8:58 am

A Brighton businesswoman joined Cilla Black to speak up for carers at a House of Commons reception yesterday.

Carol Mealing, 51, a former American Express executive, told MPs about her experience as part of Carers Week.

She gave up her high-flying job six years ago to care for her husband Andy, who is physically disabled and almost died during an operation.

She said: “It’s a massive upheaval losing your financial independence.

“And you’re treated differently – being seen as ‘just’ a carer is very frustrating.

“People need to know that anyone can become a carer, at any time.

“Overnight my life was turned on its head.”

Cilla Black said:

“When you’re a carer your life is often not your own.

“Caring can be very rewarding. It can also be very difficult.

“I know, as I cared for my husband Bobby until he lost his fight with cancer in 1999.

“Yet there are people and groups who are there to help carers have a life of their own.”

Research carried out for Carers Week suggests that 76 per cent of people looking after a loved one who is ill, frail or disabled do not have a life outside of their caring role.  

The event was chaired by Sushil Radia from the national charity Counsel and Care.

He said: “Today is an opportunity to remind the coalition government of the harsh realities faced by the UK’s six million carers.

“Most are happy to care, but they also want a life of their own – to be able to do just some of the things that people who do not have caring responsibilities take for granted.

“It is vital that the progress made in supporting and recognising carers is not lost.”

The Carers Week event took place against the background of looming cuts in public services with many expecting social services and support services to be affected.

Carers used the event to speak directly to the new Minister for Care Services, Paul Burstow, who is a Liberal Democrat MP. They spoke too to other politicians about changes that could improve carers’ lives for the better.

They explained to those in power what life is really like when caring for a loved one or friend.

Carers Week campaigns for greater recognition and support for Britain’s six million carers and celebrates the contribution they make to society.

They are estimated to save the economy £87 billion a year.

During Carers Week this week more than 12,000 events and activities are taking place across the country to let carers know that they are not alone and that help and services are available.

Carers Week is a partnership of seven national charities: Carers UK, Counsel and Care, Crossroads Care, Help the Hospices, Macmillan Cancer Support, Parkinson’s UK and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

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