The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, is giving his support to a petition, set up by the charity Age UK, calling on the Government to reform the care system for older and disabled people so that everyone gets the care they need to live with respect and dignity.
In an article published on the Church of England website, he supports the charity’s aim to collect 100,000 signatures and encourages churchgoers to sign the petition as a Lenten discipline alongside reassessing their Christian duty to attend to the “spiritual and physical needs of the elderly known to us”. A coalition of charities that all have day-to-day contact with those in need of care will be holding a mass lobby of parliament at Westminster on 6th March to demonstrate public support for care reform.
In the article, the Bishop writes: “Many of the older people in society need help in their day-to-day lives but receive no formal support. The social care system was set up to help ensure that no-one who couldn’t cope alone was left to struggle. But years of underfunding of the social care system has, Age UK believes, left a system that is in crisis despite the best efforts of those who work with older people and, as a result, the whole system fails many of those who need it.”
He continues: “Currently in Britain there are nearly 800,000 people unable to get any formal support for care. And the situation is getting worse as the cuts to local authority budgets start to bite. Spending in England on social care has been cut by 4.5 per cent in the last year, according to Government figures. Eighty per cent of local authorities have restricted providing care to only those people who have critical or substantial care needs, leaving hundreds and thousands of people with lower but still major levels of disability to miss out.”
The Bishop concludes: “This Lent is a window of opportunity to help resolve the crisis in care so that generations of older people receive the care they need for a fulfilling, respectful and dignified old age.”
The full article is available at: http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1406678/lentarticleageuk.pdf
Petitions are available from all Age UK local offices, charity shops and by visiting Age UK’s website to sign the online petition at www.ageuk.org/careincrisis.