Health and Social Care Workers: Recognition and Reward

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:28 pm on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Duncan Baker Duncan Baker Conservative, North Norfolk 2:28 pm, 25th June 2020

I want to place on the record the devastating fire last Saturday night at the Budgens in Holt in my constituency, the town in which I grew up. It has rocked the community, and I will do all that I can to help the town and many of my friends and colleagues who have been affected.

North Norfolk has been exemplary in its fight against covid-19. Our number of infections has been one of the lowest in the country, significantly behind the national average, and so have our death rates. That is in large part thanks to the incredible work of the NHS staff, and to the resilience of my residents, who have followed the guidance religiously, keeping one another and the area we live in safe.

Our carers are the group most often forgotten about. They are often unsung heroes, and they must have the recognition that they need and deserve. Many people have even taken leave from their jobs to care for the vulnerable and for family members. Some carers in my constituency have worked tirelessly caring for those who have dementia. None must be left out of recognition.

I want to spare a thought here in the Chamber for our young carers, who have not been mentioned today—young people who may be caring for a parent who is ill. During the lockdown I spoke to some young carers, and it made me wonder whether we really knew enough about these young children—sometimes they are as young as five or six—who, day in, day out, support their parents at home. Research shows that young carers are often vulnerable. They are part of a hidden group that is falling through the gaps in public policy and health and social care services. Imagine a five-year-old climbing on a stool to boil a kettle to make a drink for their parent who is incapacitated. These young people must not be forgotten. They are not getting a proper childhood.

I pay enormous tribute to the tireless work of Julie Alford and all of her team at the Holt youth project, who are looking after 38 young carers across the constituency. We must do more to raise the profile of this group of people who need support. They must not be forgotten. Their education often falls behind. I call on the Government to do everything they possibly can.

Caring Together is a charity in East Anglia, doing great work to support all carers. I warmly endorse its carer-friendly tick scheme, in which a wide variety of organisations help to identify that there is a support system out there for young carers.