Visible, Valued and Supported

A Carers Week blog by Shared Future.

Sure, we’re all concerned about the cost of living crisis. But there are some who are more invisible than most of us. Who are really struggling. Have been ‘just about managing’ at best, for too long.

That is, an army of unpaid carers, 6.5 million strong, young and old, that look after friends, neighbours and family members.

Annual Review 2021
Sharing stories, active listening and deliberating together is a first step in building understanding.
Image from our democracy pioneers project, with members of Glasgow Disability Alliance.

As “Unpaid carers changing the systems that trap them in poverty”, a new blog by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation explains, the life of unpaid carers is never easy. Last year JRF, in partnership with London Unemployed Strategies (LUS), a network of claimant advocacy groups in London, embarked on a joint project with the aim of co-designing policy solutions that address poverty and its related issues facing unpaid carers.

As the blog describes: “Social security payments are inadequate, making it difficult to achieve an income that can sustain a decent quality of life or cover the cost of living…

The theme of this year’s carers week: Visible, valued and supported.

At Shared Future we don’t directly support unpaid carers, but we do facilitate conversations between unpaid carers and connect them with policy makers. Through our work, and through our networks and partners, we hope we at least partly appreciate the injustices of the social security system. Or about how tackling isolation, marginalisation and discrimination is all about having access to power, agency and voice.

We work to elevate the voices of those less often heard.

Below are a few projects we have worked on, and blogs we have written, that show how bringing those with direct lived experience together and brokering visible, valued and supported connections to policy makers might make some difference. Co-producing new approaches to intractable problems.

The problems we face living within an unequal society are immense. Climate change, our major area of work at the moment, is of course also about a deepening social justice crisis. Fuel poverty, raising energy costs, and climate change go hand in glove. We need to connect up these dots and realise that if we are to sustain both people and planet, we need to change our course, politically, ecologically and socially. We need to reframe care for our world as a more holistic kind of participatory people-led politics.

During Carers Week 2022… we remember and celebrate those that truly keep the rest of society afloat.

Leave no-one behind, and listen before judging who is just about managing, why, or where solutions may lie. We all have our story to tell.

Citizen Personas, used in our work, are about showing that we all have different perspectives, different experiences and different passions.