Rachel Flint understands what it takes to care. The 32-year-old poet from Leeds has cerebral palsy and relies on a professional carer for support.
She was cared for by her mum for most of her childhood and has also received care from a number of professionals, some of whom she considers her closest friends.
Now, along with her current carer Zipporah, Rachel has joined the fight to urge the Government to act on low pay in the sector.
She says carers “protect the vulnerable, support families and gift independence” and is calling for them to be paid the real living wage.
“We both feel that the view of care as a low-skilled job is not only incorrect but harmful, as it is this belief that can lead to exploitation such as zero-hours contracts and widespread poverty for carers,” Rachel and Zipporah write, in a blog posted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
“In truth, caring is a physically demanding, emotionally draining job. It is the bonds formed between carers and clients that make it a true vocation.”
— Leeds Citizens (@LeedsCitizens) November 13, 2020
Professional carers have been on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether supporting people in care homes or providing live-in care, most have not stopped making sure the vulnerable people they support are getting the care they need.
But according to Citizens UK, three in four carers are earning less than the independently calculated Real Living Wage of £9.50 per hour outside London and £10.85 in the capital.
This is despite the Prime Minister previously speaking out in favour of an increase in carers wages, the social care sector is blighted by “huge” levels of low pay.
The charity has launched its WorthTheMoney campaign and is appealing to ministers to do more for carers.
Alongside Zipporah, Rachel wants to highlight the story of the sector from both sides. The pair want to prove that everybody, regardless of their social status, will experience the system at some point.
Zipporah has been a professional carer since 2008, working across a wide range of care settings, from care homes to private live-in care. Her clients have included scientists, magistrates, artists and, she says, even the odd pop star.
“It’s not right that people who do these vital roles live in poverty,” Rachel and Zipporah added.
“We have heard about carers who have contracted coronavirus having to rely on food parcels just to get through the time when they cannot work.
“This is why this campaign is coming at the right moment: we must value these workers and make sure that we can also keep them safe, because they are a crucial part of families like mine.”
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