Caring comes in all forms and at all levels and a significant part of our work is advocating for change at policy level. In a drive to promote the voice of carers, our State-Level Carers Forum (SLCF) of Odisha was formally launched this month. Their first meeting was held at Shantha Memorial Rehabilitation Centre (SMRC) in the state’s capital city, Bhubaneswar.
Attendees of this SLCF meeting included carers of children with disabilities, staff from our Odisha partners – WORD, ETKA and SPREAD, mental health professionals and representatives from other non-governmental organisations including SMRC, Handicap International, Parivaar, Ashraya – The Shelter, Open Learning Systems, MAN Trust, Chetana and HelpAge India.
The purpose of the SCLF will be to promote recognition and generate awareness on the existence of family carers; raise the voices of carers and promote their inclusion; and take action to promote and protect the rights of carers. Initially, they will be working on implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act and the Mental Health Act Bill, ensuring provision for carers is also included.
Mrs Kasturi Mohapatra, who is the Co-Chair of the group and was previously the Commissioner for Disabilities in Odisha, said:
“I myself have needed care. Without my carers, I wouldn’t have been able to walk. Until now, I haven’t recognised the role of the carers and their needs. It is important to recognise the significant contribution carers make and their voices need to be heard. This is a great initiative and a wonderful platform for them. I am glad to be part of this.”
The SLCF is a great example of humans from a variety of backgrounds and sectors working together to care for carers. Collective discussions and actions that involve a diverse range of stakeholders are necessary in order to bring the carers issue in to the mainstream, and to recognise the important role that carers play and the personal challenges they face.
We would like to thank all the members of Odisha’s SLCF, as well as the members of the other SLCFs that are now active in India, for playing their role in the carers movement and for understanding the importance of the need to support carers.