This week from Monday 8th June is Carers Week and as happens each year there is a huge online presence with pledges of support for carers from many organisations and individuals. There are also numerous activities around the country aimed at supporting carers. Like many others, I have pledged my support to Carers Week this year and I have committed to trying to reach as many carers as possible by continuing to write my blog.
This year Carers Week will be different because of COVID 19 but perhaps we can make it different in other and more positive ways.
I often wonder whether or not initiatives like Carers Week actually make a difference to the everyday life and experience of carers. Unfortunately, many of the carers I speak to are unaware of events like Carers Week and continue to feel invisible and undervalued.
It is of course a huge challenge to convert the commitment of organisations and the words written in strategies into something which makes a real difference on the ground. There is a massive gap to be bridged between the hopes and aspirations contained in plans and strategic documents and the lives of carers and the pressures they face day in, day out.
So, I have been wondering what I can write which will make a difference and help to bridge the gap.
All any of us can really do unless we are in very influential roles is to try to make our voices heard in whatever way we can. Sometimes we don’t speak up because we fear we will not be listened to or we are nervous about speaking to people we perceive to be much more important than us or we think the way we feel and what we want is not important enough.
This Carers Week and beyond I would like to urge us all to try to make our voices heard.
When things are not how we would like them to be – speak up! When what is written in plans does not turn into a reality – speak up! When simple things which would make a difference to us are not taken on board – speak up! When it feels like there is no point because no-one listens – keep speaking up!
It isn’t easy, speaking up is very hard work. We can often feel intimidated by those we would like to influence, we can sometimes feel as though we are being too demanding or that we are the only ones who think in a certain way or that what we need is just not possible. But if there is something that would make a difference to you, it is very likely that it would make a difference to other carers too. Be brave and confident and don’t be put off – keep speaking up wherever and whenever you can!
Take care and stay safe.