What do you hope to achieve from participating in this campaign, and how does it tie in with what you’re working on at the moment?
I have always been supportive of CAL’s work and have highlighted to our ministers that there needs to be a national caregivers’ strategy. It is a real issue and has become a very big issue. We did a public consultation in preparation of my Budget 2020 debates and 400 members of the public came forward to give their views. Caregiving was one of the themes that came out. Where mental health is concerned, and with all the other challenges we’ve had, this conversation had been muted and side-lined. We don’t realise that for every person with a mental health condition or disability – there could be more than one caregiver. When you multiply that number, it’s phenomenal.
There are four types of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver. How do we provide more support, more capabilities, more skills? Caregiving affects all of us, yet this role is, ironically, one of the most undervalued in our society. That is why I’ve been deeply concerned that caregiving has not been talked about enough, not considered enough and not policy made enough. As I am such an advocate for women’s issues – caregiving is also a gender issue. There is also an emotion caregiving comes with where you’re most at risk of being susceptible to mental health challenges.