Carers UK is a charity that seeks to help those who care for family and friends by teaching them the skills required to gain influence amongst decision makers. They also seek to spread information and advice between the carers of the UK.
Carers UK has always involved carers in campaigning, and has run campaigns which have relied heavily on them taking action in their local groups, e.g. Carers’ Rights Day (07.12.2007), Carers’ Week and The Equal Partners project which gives dedicated support to local carers.
In 2005 Carers UK was awarded Big lottery Funding to run a 3-year project to provide dedicated support for local carers' groups in order to help them influence services and improve them.
Carers UK Equal Partners helps carers to make their voice heard. Equal Partners gives carers the facts, skills and back-up to achieve change locally.
Carers are provided with:
• Written Materials: Carers receive tailored briefings on topical issues containing case studies, signposts to other information and regular newsletters highlighting carers' groups around the country who have changed practice or run a successful campaign. Additional resources include guides on campaigning, and working with politicians and the media.
• Training and Events: A course called 'Carers Voices' is organised to help carers present their case for change, and helps strengthen their communication and presentation skills. Events such as policy seminars and consultations on Government policy.
• Information Sharing: An online campaigning forum, where carer campaigners can get advice and ideas from other carers about what techniques work and how to overcome barriers is also available for carers to use. All the support provided is free for carers and expenses are paid when they attend events.
Careers UK reported that most people who had done the training had found it good or excellent.
Particular elements which they found valuable were:
• Communication and assertiveness skills
• Advice about presenting their case to others
90% of participants tell us that they are finding the information briefings easy to read, useful and prompt them to take action.
Other anecdotal feedback about the project has been really encouraging: One carer told us "When I read the Equal Partners Human Rights Briefing, I felt empowered and more confident to negotiate with social services"
Success stories include:
• Carers in Leeds who managed to get a senior director appointed as a Health Champion for carers by the PCT (Primary Care Trust).
• Carers in London who successfully lobbied for an Emergency Card scheme to be implemented to give carers reassurance if anything happens to them.
This article was originally submitted by Clare Woodford but has since been adapted.
Clare Woodford email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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