Show­ing we care

Act of­fers more sup­port

Rutherglen Reformer - - Intimations - Liz Ley­don

Un­paid and of­ten un­sung he­roes of the care com­mu­nity are about to be recog­nised, and hope­fully helped, by law and other pro­grammes.

The Car­ers ( Scot­land) Act 2016 came into ef­fect on Easter Sun­day and South La­nark­shire Car­ers Net­work ( SLCN) wants ev­ery­one to know that it ex­ists, and how it can as­sist.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion, f o rmed in Ma r ch 1999, said: “The Car­ers (Scot­land) Act is viewed as a pos­i­tive step to­wards en­sur­ing car­ers are ac­knowl­edged and val­ued for the im­por­tant role they play in so­ci­ety. The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the act will help car­ers to ac­cess the right sup­port at the right time and at the right level at each stage of their car­ing role.”

Denise Gille­spie, net­work busi­ness man­ager with the SLCN charity - which works in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang - added: “We wel­come this act and all the ben­e­fits it will bring. It shows car­ers how valu­able they are.

“How­ever, only when it is in progress will we be able to see if it is work­ing.

“There will be many groups and peo­ple wait­ing to see if it fits their needs.

“The act has been a long time in com­ing and the is­sues it ad­dress are al­ways evolv­ing but we be­lieve it is bet­ter to have this act in place.”

The leg­is­la­tion en­shrines new el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria and sup­port plans for car­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to the Car­ers (Scot­land) Act 2016, a carer is some­one who pro­vides care for another in­di­vid­ual where this is not part of any paid em­ploy­ment or for­mal vol­un­teer­ing.

Denise said: “We all care for those we love with­out ques­tion, be­cause we love them. But car­ers can feel in­vis­i­ble in their com­mu­nity and so­ci­ety.”

It can be dif­fi­cult, for ex­am­ple, for care­givers them­selves to get a break.

SLCN took part in the lengthy con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod on the act, which builds on and con­sol­i­dates other leg­is­la­tion, and will con­tinue to raise aware­ness about it.

Denise added: “Our role this year is rais­ing aware­ness of the act. We have a whole cam­paign around that and we will be tak­ing peo­ple step-by-step through all the sec­tions.

“Lo­cally we will speak to car­ers at meet­ings and we will aim to sign­post the act for them. Our role is to en­cour­age ev­ery­one to share it, read it, talk about it and em­power them­selves.”

The car­ers’ char­ter to ac­com­pany the act sets out the rights of car­ers un­der the leg­is­la­tion.

Denise said: “This act ap­plies to ev­ery­one, re­gard­less of age, gen­der, eth­nic­ity or any­thing else. How­ever there is a dis­tinc­tion be­tween adult and young car­ers with re­gards to their needs and out­comes.

“Ou r c a re r s a re them­selves get­ting older as the pop­u­la­tion ages. They are also giv­ing care over a longer pe­riod, as peo­ple are liv­ing longer due to good health care, and are of­ten in need of care them­selves.”

At the other end of the spec­trum are young car­ers who are en­ti­tled to sup­port. Young Scot, the na­tional youth in­for­ma­tion and cit­i­zen­ship charity for peo­ple aged 11 to 26, of­fers in­sight into the act on its web­site.

It says: “[ Un­der the act] young car­ers have the right to a young car­ers state­ment... It will con­tain in­for­ma­tion about the young per­son’s cir­cum­stances and car­ing role.”

The site goes on to say that the lo­cal author­ity is re­spon­si­ble for of­fer­ing a young car­ers state­ment to any­one iden­ti­fied in this cat­e­gory but that may vary if the lo­cal author­ity where the young per­son stays is dif­fer­ent from the one in charge where they go to school.

A new project to pro­vide Young Scot op­por­tu­ni­ties specif­i­cally tai­lored to the needs of young car­ers is be­ing backed by Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon made the an­nounce­ment along with a new Young Carer Grant in au­tumn 2019 – worth £300 a year – and fu­ture free bus travel for young car­ers who un­der­take at least 16 hours of car­ing a week.

Young Scot is work­ing with a new Young Carer’s Vi­sion Panel to co-de­sign the of­fer.

Louise Mac­don­ald, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Young Scot, said: “The ex­pe­ri­ences of young car­ers will be at the very heart of this project. It’s hugely im­por­tant that we work with young car­ers so that the new in­for­ma­tion, re­wards and en­ti­tle­ments will ben­e­fit their lives when and where it mat­ters most.”

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