THIS week is Carers Week, and I want to take this moment to recognise and appreciate the tremendous contributions of carers who selflessly dedicate their lives to caring for others. Their tireless efforts often go unnoticed and under-appreciated.

Being a carer encompasses a multitude of responsibilities and demands. It is a journey that is unique to each individual, shaped by the needs and circumstances of those being cared for.

Carers face diverse challenges, ranging from physical and emotional strain to financial and social sacrifices. They serve as advocates, nurses, chauffeurs, cooks, cleaners, and companions, constantly adapting to the evolving needs of their loved ones.

During the day and night, carers provide unwavering support, often sacrificing their own rest and wellbeing. They undergo a continuous learning process, acquiring knowledge about specific conditions and care requirements to provide the best possible support.

The role of a carer demands resilience, compassion, and an unwavering commitment to the wellbeing of their loved ones. These demands are often too much to bear but bear they must.

I have experienced the challenges and rewards of being a carer throughout my life, from supporting my Deaf father to being a single mother to six children, some of whom require additional support.

It means – as I remember from my own experience – reaching the limits of my patience and resilience, only to discover that I had a small child covered in faeces, leaving no time for self-pity.

Or getting to bed at almost 3am and setting an alarm for 6am, but never needing the alarm because somebody will have a need to be taken care of before then.

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Being a carer meant relinquishing the notion of a normal life, as the responsibilities and demands took precedence.

However, the experience of being a carer also instilled in me a passion for politics, urging me to advocate for the often unseen and unheard individuals within the corridors of power.

I was often let down, but mostly it was the loved one I was advocating for who were let down the most. I see it now reflected in my casework every single week, and I wish I had the time to sit down and chat with all these individuals, they so need it, validation is vital, but action is more so.

While celebrating the invaluable role of carers, it is also important to acknowledge the gender imbalance within this realm, where women predominantly shoulder the burden of unpaid care work.

This gender disparity hinders women’s career progression, financial independence, and overall gender equality, and by acknowledging the gender imbalance, we can raise awareness about the need for greater support and recognition for unpaid carers, particularly women.

Our appreciation for carers should extend beyond a week-long celebration. We must support systemic changes that address the challenges they face on a daily basis.

It is important to advocate for policies that provide financial assistance, respite care, and accessible support services, empowering carers to fulfil their role more effectively while maintaining their own well-being.

It is crucial to also advocate for policies and initiatives that promote gender equality!

I want the topic of care and carers to take up space in pollical areas, and to have the calls heard directly.

Therefore, I was honoured and jumped at the chance to be asked to sponsor an event in the Scottish Parliament which was focused on a campaign headed by Oxfam. It was an eye-opening evening with some sobering testimonies from an array of different people with varying aspects in and around care.

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Oxfam, along with another 55 organisations are calling for a dedicated new National Outcome to fully value and invest in those experiencing care and all those providing it, as well as a robust set of National Indicators to track progress.

They know it won’t be a silver bullet, nor a substitute for immediate action to better value and invest in care, but – over time – they believe it’ll set Scotland on a path towards transformative change.

They state that a care marker would serve as a tool to measure and assess the amount of unpaid care work performed, providing valuable data to understand the magnitude of this issue. They believe that by making the invisible visible, a care marker would shed light on the unequal distribution of care responsibilities and help policymakers identify areas that require attention and support.

I was interested in this ask, as I also believe if we could encompass a gender facet to this, we could see realistically how much of society women hold up, for free.

I know first-hand how sorely needed that insight is, and I hope the Scottish Government truly consider the message of this campaign and what it is trying to achieve.

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I believe we need to be willing to see the good, bad and ugly sides, not gloss over them, and face the reality of what is happening in Scotland – for many to be able to hold ourselves to account and make real revolutionary change.

Oxfam states that the Scotland That Cares campaign at its core, seeks to put carers and the people we care for at the heart of the Scottish Government’s vision for the country.

They say there is a golden opportunity to do just that; with the Scottish Government currently reviewing Scotland’s National Outcomes. This doesn’t mean that nothing’s being done to support carers in Scotland.

In fact, the support here is often better than in other parts of the UK. But it’s clear that more progress is still very much needed, with the emotional and financial strain faced by too many carers still much too great.

We need to make care count. To make it valued. To make it visible. We all want and need a caring society – without carers, our country and economy would simply grind to a halt.

Will you take some time to show that you care? That #ScotlandCares? You can find out more about the A Scotland That Cares campaign at