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Picture 9 Last night Laura Sandys, who won the Kent seat of Thanet South at the general election delivered her maiden speech in the Commons.

At the start of Carers’ Week, she took the opportunity to highlight the importance of government supporting those who selflessly care for relatives:

“Young, old, frail, healthy — carers are selfless family members whose lives become dominated by the responsibilities they voluntarily take on. Being a carer is not subject to any working time directive; carers are full-time, on call 24 hours. Their lives are dominated by the needs of others. When helping those with chronic illnesses, they often forfeit their own life, and certainly their livelihood. Having watched my mother look after my father for five years before he died, I have seen at first hand the toll that can be taken on the carer.

“We need to ensure that we put carers at the heart of our review of care for the elderly. It is crucial that we look at the role they play. In many ways, they will be one of the front lines in public services in the future. I urge the Government to ensure that we support those who support their loved ones. We need to look again at providing respite for carers. We need to review the cut-off of carer’s allowance when people reach pensionable age — just when they need it most — and we need to place the carer’s role at the heart of our review of care for the elderly.

“When we leave the House — not for many years, we hope — we might all need carers, or we might all need to care for others. I would prefer that to be done by a loving relative — someone who will be there for me in my time of need — and I am certain that many other Members would, too. As the Prime Minister says, we need to reward those who take responsibility, and never can that be better said than about 6 million carers who give up their lives and selflessly give their time to their loved ones.”

Jonathan Isaby

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