The UK’s Secret Service

Imagine with me for a second or two. Imagine a job that saves the government an estimated 87 billion per year. Imagine that the amount of people in the country who do that job every single day is equal to the population of the capital city. Now imagine that it’s the worst paying job in the world and that they’re looked down on as lazy even though many of them work every single hour of every single day with no holidays. You’ve just imagined a carer in the UK.

Large numbers of carers say they have been pushed to extreme levels of stress and depression as a result of caring.
Almost three-quarters (74%) of carers say that they feel that they have reached breaking point.
Over a third (41%) of carers stated that frustration with bureaucracy pushed them to breaking point, often the complex and lengthy procedures for welfare benefits, healthcare and social services. Other factors include a deterioration in the health of the person being cared for, lack of sleep and financial worries.
For most carers, practical support would or did make the difference when they were at breaking point, with just having someone to talk to a close second.
Nearly a third (31%) say that more money would make a difference, hardly surprising given that Carers Allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind at just 53.10 per week
A massive 8 out of 10 carers feel that their role is overlooked or ignored by professionals, who include GPs, social workers and hospital staff. Three-quarters of all carers also feel that their role is unrecognised by family members and friends. Almost two-thirds (63%) of carers say that their lives are made much more difficult as a result of being overlooked or ignored.
More than half (54%) say that being overlooked has affected their health and a slightly higher number (55%) say that it has left them worse off financially.

Nobody sees a carer, nobody sees a spy
We’re an invisible band of workers, have you ever asked yourself why
While James Bond struts about the place in a dashing dinner suit
Most carers struggle to recollect the last day that they had oot?
He’s fortified by gadgets supplied by the amazing Q.
We’re lonely and under-funded, always needing an extra penny or two.
We’re always on the go, we rarely get time to relax.
If we were like James Bond, we could escape on big jet packs.
His life is full of glamour, he loves to sip on champers.
Our lives are filled with duty and dirty laundry hampers.
We have no job description, we have no stated hours.
Oh! to be a spy and have some super powers.
To flee our caring duties, to go out and meet a pal.
I’d settle for a cafe – I don’t need Casino Royale.
Though we all love our families and live to show our care
Sometimes it would be nice if someone else was there
To give a little hand, to provide some great respite.
James Bond doesn’t need a befriender to let him out at night.
We’re standing in the shadows, we don’t wear any disguise.
We’re the UK’s real Secret Service, we’re the carers not the spies

~ Kerry Black ~

You may have seen further up the rate of Carer’s Allowance is Ā£53.10 per week. That’s for each carer not the people they’re caring for so a mother of three disabled children is stuck on the same rate. Those that are caring for someone for only the minimum 35 hours a week that it takes to qualify for Carer’s Allowance get approximately 1.32 per hour in a country where the minimum wage is over 5 per hour. However, the rate doesn’t change based on how long is spent caring at all, meaning that the 1.5 million Carers who look after someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week are still getting the same 53.10. As there are 168 hours in a week and a vast majority of those people are caring for someone every minute of that, that translates into roughly 31 pence per hour!

I realise that may not mean anything to people in other countries so I’ve translated into a few different currencies for you. Feel free to ask in the comments for your country to be added if I’ve missed it out.
31 british pence is:

  • 46 american cents
  • just under 4 south african rand
  • 61 australian cents
  • 2.57 danish kroner
  • 3 norwegian kroner
  • 23 rupees
  • 34 serbian cents
  • 15 rubles

Would you willingly give up your career and prospects as well as much of your personal life to take on a job with that little pay? Could you take your friends and family accusing you of being lazy or a benefits sponge because they don’t understand why you had to leave work to look after someone you love? Have you had to put on a happy face and carry on as normal even though you’re falling apart inside? Carers have to every day.

Support for UK carers.


17 thoughts on “The UK’s Secret Service

  1. Okay, this is an accidental double post with one private and this public. I would be editing this in private right now so it actually appeared the way it's meant to and showed the extra links I have prepared but Opera has decided that we're not allowed to edit posts anymore at the moment. :irked: If you're reading this, I'll fix it up when I'm able to.Edit – After consulting with Fred it appears that I used so much coding to format this post for phones and PCs that I broke the server.

  2. It's still a great post. :up:. Even though it reads like a 'choose your own adventure' novel on my phone at the moment. :lol:.:awww: it's sad that the carers and cared for both suffer in this way. :awww:.We have similar social problems in South Africa, with child headed households increasing daily. :awww:.

  3. I live with grandparents, they are both over 80 years old. My grandma broke her hip last year, then, after 3 months broke her left arm. At first we hired a professional carer but it costed us about 300 eur per month, so we gave up. Now we are very well organised, my mother comes during morning (she is retired), my aunt comes in the evening after her job (not easy for her at all), grandpa and me are there the rest of the time. I guess we are just lucky because we can manage to be there for her this way but I know some people who are not. And it is better if I don`t start to talk about social services in my country :irked: Excellent post :up:

  4. Social 'services' are a bad joke in any country. The theory is good, but it seldom works in practice. Like many other good ideas, the achilles heel of social 'services' is the abuser of the system. They put a strain on available resources and create the need for a bureaucratic 'sieve' to sort the wheat from the chav. Unfortunately, a lot of wheat is lost in the threshing and way too many chavs don't get weeded out. :awww:.

  5. Allowance is 53.10 per week

    Is it even possible to make a living for that amount of money? I don't know if we've got "carers" here – I've not heard of it. I know you can get to leave your job for a period of time to take care of a relative who is terminally ill, but I have no idea what they get for it.

  6. Now you see the effort that usually goes into formatting my posts for both mobile and PC, Aadil. I'll take my Nobel Peace prize to go please. :up:.We get tarred with that brush as well. Because I voluntarily left work people think I'm scrounging from the government and lazy. Nevermind the turmoil we live through day by day that we couldn't and almost didn't survive if I was still working, nevermind that I've worked more hours in my life than my grandfather who started work at 25 and retired at 70 and nevermind the fact that with all benefits included I'll be 60-odd before I've had back the tax I've paid in my life. Because I'm not working now and I'm having to collect benefits now I'm obviously lazy and just working the system. The worst part is that certain members of Kim's family also look at me that way. :mad:.They're trying to push for reform here. Trying to ensure that a carer can actually be recognised by doctors and given the information they need to know, instead of ignored. Trying to make sure that we have some form of support, both financial and moral. It's too little too late in my book. When I started this gig I had to figure everything out for myself. If I didn't have a background in psychology we'd have been screwed, quite simply. Took them a year to actually let us know we were entitled to Carer's Allowance and that didn't get backdated either.I don't know how the system works in other countries. I just know how it fails here. Feel free to enlighten me though. :up:

  7. Hmmm, think I might repost this with the correct formatting today, and make this one private when I get the chance.

  8. Seems our system is bad, but better than the uk-system. Here everyone has to pay into a social system that provides a care-needing person an amount (of course just after a check by a state service if care is needed, filling lots of forms – we are in Germany) that will be anyway a little to less. For caring a family member you do not need an allowance. Of course you can hire a professional service and they will send you someone like Paula (right, she is a professional nurse who has spend half her life on the care of elderly or disabled persons). In this case you will receive a higher amount that won't definitely cover at all the cost of professional caring.Mik: Don't forget that I am a German, so do not hit me with a stick for the question, but… why haven't you looked for another job after quitting the bar-business? (Hope I understood everything right). Guess you could sell mobile phones or so, what makes together with a little opera singing today a good business šŸ™‚

  9. I'm a carer myself. I have to be with Kim all the time. I wont hit you with a stick because I don't talk about it often enough for you to know, but that question is one of the banes of my existance.

  10. Interestingly, I just had a discussion about low-income jobs and how they more frequently seem to end up as "low-status" jobs also. Is it a coincidence that many of these kinds of jobs are traditional female jobs?I've always admired people who give so much of themselves in order to help others. I wish more people were like that, and that they got payed bloody well too!

  11. Guess I fall in this category although here you're either a full time nurse or part time. In end the proper ones are so costly it's just not worth it.My mum collects disability but it doesn't cover someone who takes care of her but this isn't even remotely enough for someone to take care of her.It's unfortunate that this profession isn't recognised in my country

  12. I'm not sure how to say what I want to say here, but your posts have always been professional quality as a rule. Your layouts and content could just have easily have been for a high end magazine. :up:.Question, have you submitted articles to any magazines or commercial publications as a freelance journalist? If not, you should consider looking in to that. Many professional journalists are entirely freelance. It's a valid career and might just be good way to tell the naysayers to F off. :left:.Off course, that doesn't help all those other poor souls out there that are doing so much for so little compensation. :awww:.

  13. Just one more thing. :left:.I'm so fortunate and glad that I have a good, stable job and virtually no responsibilities. :left:.Posts like these help me to appreciate everything I have.I can't say that I've worked for what I have since it kinda just happened that way. And sometimes, I forget just how fortunate I am. But it saddens me sometimes when I look at my colleagues and realise that many of them do not appreciate how fortunate they are. :awww:.

  14. Originally posted by gdare:

    At first we hired a professional carer but it costed us about 300 eur per month, so we gave up.

    Sickening how professional carers get that sort of money (often not for a full 24/7 role, either), but the value of someone who hasn't got the piece of paper to declare themselves 'professional' (yet has the same experience caring) gets such a pittance.Originally posted by Furie:

    Imagine a job that saves the government an estimated 87 billion per year.

    I've never heard it put that way before, but it's the sort of thing governments need to be told. If anything, giving carers proper money could mean taxes on that money (and, of course, that's the only sort of reason some (!) governments understand).

  15. She worked about 6 hours per day and smoked a pack of cigarettes during that time. We told her that none of us here are smokers so she cut it in half – only 10 cigarettes :faint:Actually, that woman is retired nurse working for that agency to support her pension.And yes, say hi to Kimmie, hope to see her on line soon šŸ™‚

  16. That's a point, Darko. I sounded like I was lumping all professional carers into some sort of 'holier-than/richer-than thou' basket. Thanks for the reminder that a lot of them are probably having difficulties, too.

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