Whether you are new to caring or have been caring for someone for a while, we believe that it’s important that you understand your rights and are able to access support that is available to you as soon as you need it. Awareness events such as Carers Rights Day help us reach out to unpaid family and friend carers to let them know where they can get help and support and to put the spotlight on carers' needs.
This year's Carers Rights Day takes place on Thursday 26th November 2020 and the theme is Know Your Rights. There are a range of legal matters, support and rights carers may want to be aware of, including:
• Benefits available to them and the person they care for, such as Carer’s Allowance or Pension Credit.
• Other financial help, including help with council tax, fuel costs and health costs.
• Practical help, including carer's assessment and making an emergency plan if you cannot provide care or if your care arrangements fell through.
• Employment rights: for example requesting flexible working, protection from discrimination and parental leave or unpaid leave to support a dependent.
There is more information about carers rights on the Carers UK website and in their booklet Looking After Someone available on the Looking After Someone webpage.
This Carers Rights Day we have planned a range of events online to enable carers to meet up, find out about support available for them and also lobby for improvements to services and assistance with politicians as well as representatives from organisations such as the NHS and Hertfordshire County Council, which pay for or provide services in Hertfordshire. Details of the events are below.
Carers Rights Day programme
Due to the coronavirus pandemic all the events are taking place online, on Zoom. Places are limited and need to be booked by contacting us on 01992 58 69 69 or emailing . If you need support with accessing or using Zoom please get in touch with us as we will try and help you with this.
On the day (Thursday 26th November 2020)
Money Matters Workshop, 2pm - 3.30pm. Carers will be able to find out about the support available from Hertfordshire's Money Advice Unit and Citizens Advice Bureau, particularly as part of a new partnership - the Hertfordshire Economic Recovery Team.
Discussion about how the NHS and Social Services can work more closely together to try and prevent carer breakdown, 10.30am - 12.30pm. Chris Badger, Interim Director of Adult Care Services at Hertfordshire County Council, and Beverley Flowers, Director of Integration and Systems Transformation at East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, will meet with carers online to talk about how the NHS and Social Care Services can work together more closely to help to prevent carer breakdown.
Meet the MPs sessions. Two MPs - Julie Marson for Hertford and Stortford and Dean Russell for Watford - have agreed to meet some carers in their constituencies to hear from them about issues affecting carers, such as financial hardships they face. This is a chance for carers to lobby politicians for the following:
- An increase in the Carer's Allowance benefit and to raise the earnings limit from £128 a week to at least £139.52 and then in line with National Living Wage year on year; and
- A legal right for paid carers' leave to help carers who struggle to stay in work due to caring or juggle work and caring.
Julie Marson MP Hertford and Stortford will meet with carers from 10am – 11am.
Dean Russell MP Watford will chat with carers from 2pm – 2:45pm.
Our Stevenage Carers Support Hub is meeting online on Zoom, 10.30am – 11.30am. Carers tell us they find it helpful meeting other carers.
Art Workshop Online (In the style of Cézanne), 6.30pm - 7.30pm.
On Wednesday 2nd December 2020
Legal Planning Workshop Online, 12.30pm - 2pm. A representative from Setfords Solicitors will help carers prepare for the future by talking about some of the legal documents and matters they may want to think about if they already haven't, such as Lasting Powers of Attorney and wills.
Carers UK, which co-ordinates Carers Rights Day, has organised a webinar focusing on supporting working carers during COVID-19 and beyond. It will provide an opportunity to explore Carers UK’s research on the steps employers have taken to support working carers, hear from employers about how they are supporting working carers, and to find out more about Carers UK’s new flexible working guide, that was developed in partnership with Barclays LifeSkills. You can find out more about requesting flexible working on the Carers UK website. Carers UK also has a telephone helpline 0808 808 7777, available 9am – 6pm Monday to Friday.
Michèle Stokes, our Chief Executive, said: “Most of us will take on an unpaid caring role at some point in our lives and it’s important that carers feel recognised, supported and know their rights. Awareness events such as Carers Rights Day enable us all to put carers and caring in the spotlight and we want to let people know that wherever they are in their caring journey we are there to provide support.”
Among the carers we've supported over the years is Patricia, who has cared for various relatives for over 38 years. She said: “I’ve been empowered by the support I’ve had from Carers in Hertfordshire. I’ve learnt a lot from attending carers’ groups and workshops and speaking to other carers. I’ve also met some lovely people.”
Patricia explained that one thing she found particularly useful was learning about the Carer’s Assessment and contingency planning (arrangements for if you cannot care). Patricia, who volunteers with the charity as joint leader of our Watford Carers Support Hub and also made calls to carers in the early days of COVID-19 to check how they were, said: “About four years ago having a contingency plan and carer’s card proved vital. I’d gone to my GP as I’d felt unwell, I didn’t have my phone on me, and was rushed to hospital. Using details from my carer’s card my plan could be accessed and alternative arrangements made to look after the person I care for. I now encourage other carers to make a contingency plan, you never know when you will need it.”