The politics of courage


When we think of courage, it is often associated with a one off call to action, by someone who is forever immortalised, where observers take from that person what they want but forget the transformation, where that person goes from being average, to the people who represent us all and what makes them unique.

The people who represent us all have made the headlines this week, with the publication of a new report from
Carers UK, where a survey was conducted in Scotland, that revealed how 96% of unpaid carers have experienced a negative impact on their health because of their responsibilities, with more than a quarter of people rating their own health as being either “poor or very poor“.

The survey which is titled
Sick, Tired, and Caring, was published on Wednesday, with the findings giving cause for alarm, in light of the fact that some of those providing care to our country’s elderly and disabled, are infact suffering themselves with significant illnesses, including diabetes, depression, cancer or, as the Guardian highlighted; “more than a third were suffering from arthritis, osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, and a third had high blood pressure“.

As the survey illustrates, approximately 70% of unpaid carers suffer from stress, and 34% suffer exhaustion, with almost half of the recipients reporting that their conditions had started after they began caring. For those whose medical conditions predated their caring role, a quarter of Scotlands carers stated, that their conditions had worsened since they took on the extra responsibilities.

The director of Carers Scotland, Patrick Begley, while speaking to the media, stated that the NHS and Social Services “relied heavily upon the support provided by unpaid carers“, with Scotland having an estimated 660,000 carers, who are carrying out the financial equivalent of around £7.6bn of work per year, with unpaid care givers saving the United Kingdom a shocking £87bn a year.

In 2005, Carers UK reported how "316,000 carers in the UK" described themselves as being "permanently sick or disabled", with less than one-third of home carers actually being assessed by government run Social Services and with "three in every five people becoming a carer at some point in time", Carers UK pointed out the fact that "one in five carers has to cut back on food" and "one in three have trouble” paying basic utility bills.

The reasons for this lie in the fact that the previous Labour Government and now the slash and dice Coalition, see potential in slave labour, by paying unpaid carers an “allowance” of around £45.00 per week for a 24 hour, 7 days a week job and still get to save what Tony Blair once described as “Cool Britannia“, an estimated £660 million a year in unclaimed carers benefits, with the unpaid carer saving the country an extra "£24 billion pounds a year“, in further unpaid social and child care provision.

So while newspapers like the Daily Express can carry headlines like “
75% on sick are skiving”, with members of parliament like Philip Davies MP, condemning abuses in the system, I for one would relish the chance to see how they would react, if they were the ones providing care to an elderly British World War Veteran and former POW in a Japanese camp, who having developed Alzheimer’s, no longer recognised his sons or his daughters but lived the last two years of his life, reliving those terrible nightmares.

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