We all want to help our loved ones. If they are elderly, ill or disabled we want to do as much as we can. Taking on caring responsibilities can, however, take a real toll – emotionally, mentally and physically. When you are so focused on making sure someone you love is safe, healthy and has everything they need when they can’t provide for themselves, it can be difficult to sort out the assistance you need and are entitled to.
That’s why I was so pleased to work with the Carers Support Centre here in Bristol to hold a constituency surgery specifically for those with care-giving responsibilities. They provided great support to those attending to ensure that they could make the appointment and so that we could get the most out of our discussion. I am so keen to ensure that people who I can help, who might not think or have the time to write to their MP individually, get an opportunity to sit down with me so we can discuss ways that I can help with their concerns and problems.
I met people who are passionate about providing the best possible life for their partner, or their children, their siblings, their parents or grandparents. But in addition to providing care and support, they are having to navigate complex benefits systems, find secure long-term housing, and – in some cases – experience frustrating delays with the Home Office to clarify their immigration status. This is made all the more difficult by austerity – as support and external care services have had to be cut leaving more and more people having to provide more and more time and money to care for their relatives.
It shouldn’t be like this.
I want to change the system and I challenge the government to change it or move aside. However, the people I met yesterday can’t wait for a change of government. So I’m pleased that there are ways I can help as your Member of Parliament. Helping people who are encountering barriers and delays with government departments or public services is a major part of my job as your representative and I’m supported by an excellent team who help me get real results.
If, for example, you have an application for benefits that you haven’t heard back about – I can contact the government department on your behalf to find out what is happening. If you are challenging a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions or the Home Office, I can support and write to the relevant department urging them to reconsider the case. If you are struggling to obtain assistance with care for a relative, or treatment for a health condition, I can contact the NHS and advocate on your behalf. If you are experiencing a problem you think I can help with, please get in contact with me.
I want to thank Caroline and Chris from the Carers Support Centre who worked with my caseworkers to arrange this surgery for carers from across Bristol West. I also thank my dedicated and skilled casework team. We will be working over the coming weeks to try and help everybody that took the time to come and speak to us.
I stand up in Parliament to show this government what effects their policies are having on the most vulnerable people in our society. Those who take on care responsibilities should expect support from their government, not frustration as they attempt to navigate fragmented and underfunded public services. The people I met this week will be firmly on my mind as I continue to try and defeat this government, and put in place policies that will help those who use their time, their skills and their compassion to help improve their loved ones’ lives. In the meantime, I’ll do my best for everyone who needs my help.