Humza Yousaf: Carers' voices must be heard in May elections
LAST week I watched Meet the Carers, a documentary following two families who care for children with mental and physical disabilities.
I was touched by the devotion of the carers to their children and struck by the great sacrifices these carers make which so often goes unnoticed by wider society.
Watching the programme, I was reminded of the day I shadowed a carer, who is the mother of two autistic children.
As an MSP, I work long days and often take work home at weekends but I can honestly say that I have never been as exhausted, both physically and mentally, as I was after those 12 hours.
I left with an appreciation and admiration for the work of carers across the country.
The thing that surprised me the most, both while shadowing a carer and watching the documentary, is that every day carers have to battle against different institutions for the most basic support.
To ensure the best possible care for those they support, a carer has to navigate between the local authority, the Department of Work and Pensions, the local education department, social work and many more departments.
This leads to extra stress for individuals who already have to worry about so much.
Glasgow has more carers than any other region in Scotland, with around 66,000 people providing regular care for a relative, friend or partner.
In the local elections this May, carers' voices must be listened to.
I know the SNP have met with a number of carers' organisations to hear about their concerns and to find out what support is missing from the local authority and what we can do better.
Policies to help carers and recognise the essential work that they do will undoubtedly be a prominent feature in the SNP's local manifesto in Glasgow.
No carer I have ever met is looking for a pat on the back.
Most of them just see the job they are doing as the role of any mother, father, son or daughter. However, without adequate support, carers can become isolated and vulnerable due to the nature of their caring responsibilities.
They may have to give up jobs, hobbies and socialising due to the all-consuming role they do, so it is vitally important that they receive the support they deserve.
As Tricia, one of the carers featured in Meet the Carers said: "There is a life outside of caring ...it is your right as a person."
By working together, the Scottish Government, Parliament and local councils can remove the obstacles and give our carers the respect, dignity and rights they deserve.
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