Unpaid carers and Scottish and European carer organisations gathered on Wednesday 4 October to mark 25 years of the Carers Movement in Scotland.

Held at Edinburgh City Chambers, the event, chaired by Derek Feeley, was led by national carer organisation, the Coalition of Carers in Scotland and VOCAL – Voice of Carers Across Lothian.

Starting with a reflection of the developments in carer policy and recognition spanning two decades, the event then looked to colleagues from Europe to understand the differences in carer policy and opportunities for shared practice.

Derek Feeley, Chair of the event, said:

“Our event reinforced the fact that carers are an essential part of high quality social care support. They make a massive contribution to social care in Scotland and it is time to recognise their efforts by seeing them as equal partners, by securing their rights, and by listening deeply to their voices and experiences.

As we rethink social care in Scotland, our carer community must be front and centre of that redesign. They have earned that right.”

Many carers are facing enormous challenges, and with budgets being squeezed locally and nationally, it is vital that carers continue to be vocal and share their experiences. The event included a carer panel, featuring Peter Lawson who cares for his wife, Audrey Edwards, parent carers, and Zahida Parveen, parent carer.

Peter, said:

“We need to get to the point where the carer and cared-for person are equal partners in the process. Their quality of life should be equivalent to someone who is not a carer for cared-for person.”

Claire Cairns, Director of Coalition of Carers in Scotland, said:

“We chose the theme for the event ‘Carers Can’t Wait’, as we know from listening to carer experiences across the country that change and urgent action are required. Carers do not feel supported or recognised, and many are facing increased impacts on their own health and wellbeing as a result of their caring role.”

It is hoped that the event will encourage local and national government to take action on carers’  rights and move beyond recognition.