My trip to the House of Lords
On Tuesday 19 June Baroness Pitkeathley of Caversham sponsored the Carers Week 2012 Parliamentary Reception in the River Room at the House of Lords.
Sue Allison (Strategic Lead- Carers) and Nick Rijke (Director of Policy and Research) from the MS Society invited me and my dad to the event so we could share our experiences of what it’s like to be carers.
MPs and peers
We asked a friend to come over and make sure Mum was okay throughout the day, and travelled to Euston (dozing off a lot on the journey). We then made our way to Westminster with Sue and another carer.
Attending the reception were 22 Peers and four MPs, including Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Quality Earl Howe.
We chatted to people from the other Carers Week partner organisations, as well as other carers. We also listened to speeches. Baroness Pitkeathley, ex-chief executive of Carers UK and the current Carers UK chief executive spoke about how important carers' health is, as their theme this week is, ‘In Sickness and in Health.’
It was refreshing to see so much positivity, and to listen to a group of people who knew what they were talking about when it comes to carers’ benefits and what it’s really like as a carer.
Sue Allison observed that the Peers, "heard first hand from carers about how difficult it can be to put their own health care needs first and about how difficult it is to have break from caring even though they know its important to have."
Sharing stories to stimulate change
Nick Rijke said, “It was great to be part of the second successful parliamentary event of Carers Week. We talked about the Carers Week report’s stark figures on how our failing system is threatening carers’ health, and pushed parliamentarians to take action on our three asks of sustainable funding for social care, ongoing support and breaks from caring, and support from GPs.
"The message really hit home with policy-makers as it was brought to life by people like Sarah and Hilary. Although I have direct experience of caring for someone with MS, it’s good to hear about others’ experiences, from different parts of the country. Carers Week is a fantastic opportunity for us to share these stories, and use them to stimulate real change.”
We enjoyed some nibbles, drinks and a good natter with all the people there and took a couple of pictures (above is me and my dad in the River room).
After all that, we headed back home to mum. Together, we all watched England beat Ukraine 1-0.
I must admit, as unusual and uplifting as it was to meet other carers and professionals who understood the role we play, England going through to the quarter finals of the Euro edged past that in making mine, my mum’s and my dad’s day.