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Friday, October 21, 2016
Manchester: church group demands action for carers
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Church Action on Poverty's Manchester ChangeMakers project held a successful public hearing last Thursday. Attended by over 120 people, it gave carers in the city a chance to raise their voices and make their voices heard by people in power.

The Carers' Hearing was held at the Friends' Meeting House in Manchester. During the last 12 months ChangeMakers has  been working with carers whose relatives have a 'dual diagnosis' - that is, mental health issues together with an alcohol or substance abuse problem. The work resulted in this public hearing, where carers were able to put their demands directly to power-holders – medical and social service professionals.

Professional actors acted out powerful stories taken directly from the experience of carers. Tom Dodd, the former National Dual Diagnosis Leader at the National Mental Health Development Unit, had recorded a video which was shown to the hearing. The proceedings were filmed by Inexcess TV.

Three key demands were put to the power-holders by the carers:

    * That when patients sign agreements that their carer (usually a relative) should be kept informed of their whereabouts and what is happening to them these should be honoured.
    * That risk assessments should be undertaken for both carers and patients and that these should be kept up to date. 
    * That more attention be given to training and awareness-raising about the specific needs of those with a dual diagnosis.

Power-holders agreed to these demands and promised to work with carers on all these plus other longer term issues.

The carers' experience highlighted the need for direct citizen participation  as opposed to simply being invited into the space of the professionals. These carers – who have specific needs – do not feel that their needs and concerns are being addressed by the current consultation frameworks. The hearing was a powerful way of ensuring their voices are heard.

Manchester ChangeMakers uses broad-based community organising techniques to give a say to people from disadvantaged communities. Find out more at the ChangeMakers website:

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Tags: Church Action on Poverty, Manchester ChangeMakers

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