Ida Linfield, Liberal Democrat candidate for Canterbury City South, is pressing for better support and respite breaks for Kent's carers.
The pressures of lockdown last year have been immense for all of us but especially for the carers in our community, many of whom are wives, husbands and school-aged children. Many of whom are not in the best state of health themselves.
Thousands of Kent residents have acted as carers for elderly, disabled and vulnerable family members and friends - indeed one in five of us will be a carer at some point in our lives.
Equally, thousands of Kent residents have benefitted from being cared for at home in a familiar environment which most of us would choose for ourselves, also potentially sparing several £ millions from the County Council budget for providing residential care facilities.
No-one should underestimate the sheer hard work and emotional strain of looking after a spouse with dementia, a child with acute learning difficulties or a severely disabled person 24/7 with minimal outside help.
A recent survey by Carers UK revealed that 64% of carers have not had a break at all from their caring role since Lockdown began, 74% said they are exhausted and 44% said they are reaching breaking point.
"The Liberal Democrats believe in caring for carers ", said Ida Linfield. "We will stand up for carers and hopefully lead the way for a more caring society as we enter the new world post lockdown."
At yesterday's County Council meeting Ida proposed a motion[see below] calling upon Tory run KCC to step up to the plate and take responsibility for promoting both respite care and short respite breaks to which carers are legally entitled.
Sadly, the Tory group voted down the Lib Dem motion.
Many carers are legally entitled to a short break or respite service, free of charge.
If you are a carer or you know a carer who would like a well-earned rest, you can get more details about short breaks and other support provided by the County Council and other organisations in Kent on the KCC website.
Click here for information if you are caring for an older person
Click here for information if you are caring for a child
The Lib Dem motion was as follows:
"This Council notes the many benefits to health and wellbeing that respite services and short breaks provide to carers. However, it is clear that even before the current pandemic many carers in the county were not accessing any support. These numbers are likely to have increased markedly, and stress levels amongst carers are known to be very high.
The Council commits to actively promoting respite breaks for all carers across Kent by launching a new publicity campaign to raise awareness to those carers who have yet to take advantage of the short break and respite services to which they are entitled."