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Survey a damming indictment on government attitude to carers

11 June, 2007

Sinn Féin Newry Armagh MLA Mickey Brady has called for a better support system for carers and financial packages to be put in place to support the work they do. His comments come after it was revealed in a survey of 3000 carers, carried out by a leading Carers organisation that many here faced a future of debt, worry and health problems.

Mr Brady said:

"Carers play a vital role in supporting family members who needed help.
There are circumstances where carers have to cut back on food, heating and clothes, give up their jobs and sacrifice their pensions to care for their loved ones. This is despite the fact that carers support is worth £1.9bn a year to the north.

"This survey is a damming indictment on attitudes and policies by governments north and south and at the highest level, towards Carers.

"Many people who are caring for someone do not necessarily see themselves as 'carers'. Rather they are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, partners, husbands, wives or neighbours. However, being identified as a carer can be important in helping them get the right support they need to look after the person they care for.

"With the growing emphasis on home-based care, informal care by family, friends and neighbours is increasingly being recognised as an important source of support to people of all ages. It is important for carers to get as much information, practical help and emotional support as they can.

"Carers provide informal voluntary care crucial to the primary care system. Their work he stated saved the British and Irish Government millions. Yet many continue to be denied sufficient recognition for their contribution or support. We want to see improved financial and other practical support for full-time carers which recognise the real value of their work.

"The extra costs of disability and charges for various services make carers financially worse off. The lack of alternative care provision results in many carers being forced to give up their work. Carer's own health can suffer because they are forced to carry on caring without the right back up from services. This cannot be allowed to continue.

"I want to appeal to anyone who is caring for a family member or friend to seek advice on whether they are entitled to any additional financial assistance or help from the voluntary sector. There are many advice centres, community and voluntary groups throughout the north doing great work in this field and they have helped countless numbers of people.

"The last Executive involving locally accountable Ministers identified family carers as a priority group requiring support. There is much more that needs to be done to support all of our carers, particularly in relation to meeting accommodation and needs for adaptations and also crucially in providing respite care." ENDS

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