We have been part of the independent living struggle for many years. “Care” is devalued as something only older and disabled people need, when in reality, everyone needs care from before we are born and throughout life, we all need caring relationships and strive for a caring society. That is, “care needs” are not just about disabled people, and should be for everyone. For disabled women, many of us are carers for children and loved ones regardless of being disabled ourselves. Many disabled mothers have been left by partners to cope alone, and frequently are threatened with fostering and adoption. A living wage for caring work (rather than no wages, the shamefully low Carer’s Allowance or zero-hour contracts) would make clear that people and the environment are central.
To help change this situation, WinVisible has backed this petition.
Via direct payments from Social Services, people have hoped that being the employer would put us in control of our care and support arrangements. But care is still devalued and underfunded, so direct payments and being the employer has not by itself overcome our low social status, discrimination and neglect by agency and other staff. In some cases, it is worse than before because no support is available when problems arise, and Councils have distanced themselves from responsibility to support people and oversee that things are going OK.
For more on the context, see ‘The Perspective of Caring’, a Q&A on caring, the vital human relationship that ensures survival and well-being, the international petition to get a living wage for this work, the origins of this demand and who supports it. By Nina Lopez, Global Women’s Strike