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Making Caring Visible and Valued.
What does making caring visible and valued mean to you? For this year’s campaign for Carers Week 2021, the focus is on making caring visible and valued. Although, the lockdown experience made me feel like I was an afterthought. I felt invisible. Furthermore, my mental health sacrificed.
The Carers Week Breaks or Breakdown new report highlights the challenges that unpaid carers faced during the pandemic.
I am Here.
I am a parent carer and have no shame in calling myself that. Why would I? I know that I am a parent, but I am also a carer. Likewise, due to the nature of caring, we do not put our needs first; and sometimes do not speak about all the work we do (out of dignity and respect for the person we care for). I get it.
After all, I am a mother and just doing what I am supposed to do, right? But the thing is, because of my son’s needs, I have to do a lot more. Yet, people are quick to denounce my caring role, which makes me feel bad, and then I go inwards and stay silent. I’m sure I am not alone in feeling like this. But the thing is, putting parents down for calling themselves carers only creates barriers to them accessing support. That is not helpful. As we do not know the full extent of what people go through behind closed doors.
Juggling Work and Caring.
I used to work and come home exhausted. No one knew I was struggling trying to do everything. My mum also juggled work and caring for my nan, who had Alzheimer’s. Later, she had to give up work to care full-time.
There is only so long you can go on for remaining silent trying to do everything, possibly not getting the support (if any) for the person you care for, not accessing support for yourself before you have a breakdown. I know, I have been there. (More times than I would like to admit).
I have worked full time (and part-time) and cared and had to leave work to become a full-time carer. I am not ashamed to say I stepped down from working full time to take care of my son’s needs. (I should not have been in this dilemma in the first place).
Over two decades, I have acquired many skills from my work experience (in multiple industries). I trained people and worked different shifts, including weekends, evenings, and overtime. (I have always been a hard worker). However, when my son was born (and as a toddler), I noticed he struggled with his development and coordination. I knew I could not be as flexible with what hours I could work. At this moment, everything changed. Confusing, right? I mean, I still have the same skills as I did before. I just had to prioritise caring for my son. I joined a worker’s union to go through a process to secure flexible working hours. All the hard work and training I did before my son was born was forgotten. I felt like I was a hindrance. I felt disposable.
See Our Value.
It is not only from paid work that I have attained skills but also from caring. A lot of people forget that. Carers manage to do the impossible, but that work gets overlooked. Furthermore, Unpaid carers need to be valued at the same level as any paid work. We are skilled workers. After all, we do save the economy £132 billion per year.
How to accomplish a sustainable work-life balance? That is the question.
Now that the SEND Tribunal is over and I have allowed myself time to look after my mental health, I would like to return to work. Moreover, I need to work somewhere that values carers (and neurodiversity) and understand my responsibilities. But at the same time, acknowledge the skills that I have. I need a job that fits in with my caring role. So, that is where my thoughts are now.
Finally, although I had to step down from work, I still have been working. (Important point).
I’m Yvonne, and I am a parent carer. I am here, and I exist.
Well, that is my experience, so what about you?
What does making caring visible and valued mean to you? (Please comment below)
Disclaimer: The blog is based on personal experience and is my personal views only.