Last week, Barbara delivered the keynote speech at a national conference for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) carers and carer workers.
The conference brought carers from across the country together with voluntary organisations and support workers from various agencies to discuss how support for BME carers could be improved. Barbara was invited by the National Black Carers and Carers Workers Network to talk about the Government’s agenda for BME carers.
All carers face a variety of challenges, from financial loss to a possible impact on their physical and mental health, but those from BME groups face additional difficulties in accessing the support they need. Language barriers and cultural differences can lead to those in need missing out on vital information . Also, the concept of an unpaid or family ‘carer’ does not even exist in some languages. This can mean that carers in BME communities may not realise that services are available to them. Previous experiences of prejudice and racism may also prevent carers for asking local agencies for help.
In her speech, delivered to around 200 delegates in the BT centre in the London’s financial district, Barbara said:
“Carers in BME communities have a lower take up of services than other carers. This lower take up is a cause of concern as it may be because the services are not provided in a way appropriate to the culture and language needs of the carer or cared-for person.”
Delegates also listened to social care professionals and policy makers before hearing a panel of carers, recently formed to highlight the issues facing BME carers on a national level, as they told of the difficult experiences they have faced in caring for their loved ones.
After the conference, Barbara said:
“It was a pleasure to be involved in this conference. The experiences shared by the carers panel were powerful and very moving, showing us how important it is to look specifically at the challenges faced by BME carers. Individuals who spend their lives caring for and helping others deserve the help and support of society, not additional challenges. I have worked hard in Parliament to try to highlight the challenges faced by carers and will continue to do so with these issues in mind.”