Whilst working with individual carers to address their specific needs makes up a large part of our work, it has been our aim from the start to also bring carers together to create a strong civic voice that will influence policy changes and promote long term sustainable change for carers.
We bring carers together in local, district and state level groups, associations and forums, alongside key stakeholders such as NGOs working in sectors related to carers, academics, private companies, and government officials, so that the voices of carers can be heard by policy makers and practitioners at all levels and across sectors.
Our local carers self-help groups are the first step in bringing carers together. They have been a key tool in promoting carers connectedness with each other and provide much needed emotional support. Tulsi Ram Sapota, a carer from Baglung, Nepal commented:
“Since joining my local carers group my life is no longer ‘in the dark’. I have a place where I can express my internal thoughts and pain. Bringing carers together makes us feel less depressed and happier.”
Our cluster level committees and district level Carers Associations are focused on raising the carers issue with local government authorities and advocating for the rights of carers. Pradip Kumar Shrestha from Kathmandu Valley, Nepal became a member of his Carers Association. He said:
“I want to be a representative for local Nepalese carers. It is my hope that carers will be able to receive financial support from the government for themselves, not just those they care for.”
Last year we took our carers groups to the next level, launching State Level Carers Forums (SLCFs) in India. Working with our existing partners we have established SLCFs in four states of India – Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Odisha. Their purpose is to promote recognition of the existence and role of family carers; to raise the voice of carers and promote their inclusion; and to develop state level strategy frameworks for promoting and protecting the rights of carers.
Mrs Kasturi Mohapatra, Co-Chair of the Odisha SLCF, and previous 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 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.”
Beyond the SLCFs our vision is to establish National Alliances of Carers (NACs) in the countries where we work, beginning with an India National Alliance of Carers. Each national alliance will be committed to influencing policy changes for carers at a national level which will benefit all carers living in that country.
Ultimately, once the national alliances are established, we will bring them together to form a South Asia Alliance for Carers, resulting in a transformative effect for carers living across South Asia.