December 8th, 2013
Yesterday, Thursday 5th December, NHS England held its Think Carer consultation and workshop in London.
Attended by over 150 carers and professionals, who managed to arrive from all over the country despite the storms, the aim of the day was to make a pledge to raise the value and profile of carers within NHS England, and to draw up a list of priorities for enhancing their understanding of, and delivery of service to, carers all over the country.
By common consent one of the most powerfully emotive and eloquent speakers was our own, 19 year old, Russell Minns. Previously a youth work apprentice, he is now working on a pilot project to engage 18-24 year old carers in Surrey (pictured here with internationally famous soul singer, Joss Stone, whilst volunteering at a festival last summer).
A carer ‘ever since I can remember’, he looks after his 17 year old sister, Emma, who has Down’s, and numerous other family members. He talked of the emotional strain of being a Young Carer, then what it is to be a Young Adult carer trying to study for A levels whilst having so many responsibilities at home.
‘I couldn’t even talk to anyone at school,’ he explained, ‘because the teachers weren’t trained’, adding, ‘What if I wasn't a carer? Where would I be now? Could I be... ? I don't know - I'm a carer.’
He concluded with, ‘At times I felt desperate, I don’t know what I would have done without Young Carers organisations. So let’s talk, let’s ACT and let’s make the NHS make carers a priority TODAY’. To which he received, from both carers and NHS professionals, a hugely sustained and deafening round of applause.
As one delegate said yesterday, ‘He just grabbed the audience by the throat, then by the heart and then lead them to a positive conclusion. It was magnificent, spine-tingling stuff.’
As well as on Carersnet radio, the day was broadcast out on Twitter, peaking at an incredible 2 million people. Quotes from both Russell’s speech and his responses on the Q&A panel received the highest number of retweets of the day.
Equally, a number of his points were also taken up, and voted by all those present, into the top five priorities for NHS England. Those top 5 priorities now are:
A highly encouraging step forward for NHS England, a triumph of the real truth of being a Young Adult carer and barnstorming campaigning for Russell Minns. Russell, we thank you.
For the full Storify of all that happened on the day, and NHS England's responses, please click here (Storify distills all the information and tweets into one, easy scroll-down, condensed version.You don't need Twitter to be able to read it).