Families often need the support of professional carers - but carers need support too.
The Carers Act Scotland sets out a new legislative framework and presents an opportunity for local people to decide how carers are supported in their communities. At the organisation I chair, East Renfrewshire Disability Action, we're currently working on a project called The Care Collective. We're working with Voluntary Action and Thrive, who for the past 10 years have developed a knack for design thinking, innovation and empowering people to change the way they work.
Over the next few months we will be helping people to shape the way public services are provided in our area, identifying ways in which the community can collaborate.
We are connecting people who care for someone to share experience and ideas about what the right kind of support, at the right time, from the right person would look like and how we might use the resources available to us to make that a reality.
Carers provides invaluable support, not just to those they care for, but also to our wider community.
With the work we are doing, everyone will get a say, from organisations to individuals. We've held a lot of pop up events in our surrounding area. A lot of good feedback and ideas are coming out of these. We are also reaching people who weren't aware before of such support organisations.
"When someone we love or care about becomes ill, or comes into this world with a condition that means they will always need extra support, most of us don't think twice about getting our sleeves rolled up and doing whatever is needed," says Anne Kidd from Voluntary Action.
"However, if this becomes a 24/7 role, there are times when the family can't manage under their own steam. Sometimes extra outside help is needed. We know that without the love and support of people who provide care, our society simply couldn't function. We need to better understand just what families need so that they continue to care and what we as a society need to do to help."
Michael McEwan is Chair of East Renfrewshire Disability Action and a freelance journalist. He writes with lived experience.