This interview was conducted by new Medway Green Party member, David Wilkins. His article was printed in the Brighton and Hove Independent on 4th December 2015.
Caring for the carers
Justice for the long-term disabled and carers is a cause Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas is keen to champion. On Carers Rights Day 2015, Ms Lucas explained why she was determined to make a difference.
“We do an injustice to carers because we don’t give them the support and the credit for the incredibly hard work that they do” she said. “Essentially we’ve got a whole army of people who are unsung heroes, working behind the scenes looking after elderly parents, colleagues, friends or children. I want to make sure they are better supported.”
Many carers believe they should be entitled to basic treatment such as respite care, a view Ms Lucas supports. This led her to support a defeated bill in parliament, arguing for free hospital parking for carers.
She said: “It was a small thing, but it was an indication and recognition of the amount of work carers have to do.”
When Ms Lucas was first elected as MP 2010, she met Liz Dwiar and her twin sister Pauline. Miss Dwiar had given up her job to become full time carer for her mother who’d suffered a debilitating stroke.
“What impressed me about Liz was that she worked immensely hard but had so much joy in doing it”, Ms Lucas said. “To see someone give up the job the they love doing and give up the life that they loved because of their responsibility, and indeed, the love for her mother was genuinely moving”.
Ms Lucas remains deeply worried about the planned cuts to the welfare system, and said: “The benefit system and welfare system doesn’t help carers. They only need to be earning a small amount of money from elsewhere and the carers allowance gets reduced. We need to take George Osborne seriously when he says we’re all in this together. If he’s serious about that, then he ought to be making sure that we don’t have a series of cuts that seem to be targeting the most vulnerable the hardest.”
“The amount of work carers do without being thanked is enormous and society should be saying a very big thank you not only with words, but hopefully follow that up with some policies to better support them as well.”