Wandsworth’s Secret Army of Carers

Stay Well At Home Service, Evesham, BritainIn my role on the Health and Adult Care Committee, I have been learning all about Wandsworth’s secret army of carers, who work tirelessly around the clock to care for friends and family. Until now, I never realised the full impact of the health inequalities facing carers in Wandsworth and all over the UK.

Studies show a staggering 61% of carers suffer with depression, unable to maintain a life of their own, while on duty around the clock. Due to the demands and pressure of their role, they experience poor physical health including injury and clinical illness as a result of being so run down.

The Wandsworth Carers Strategy has highlighted that 21% of Carers, providing in excess of 50 hours of care per week believe themselves to be in poor health. This is significant when compared to 8% of non-Carers.

A UK-wide survey has Carers connecting with carersshown that 1 in 5 of emergency admissions to hospital could have been prevented in cases where a person was receiving care from a family member. Furthermore, the source of this prevention has been found to be increased support for carers.

Undoubtedly this use of emergency provision has a financial impact and places strain on NHS services that are already stretched beyond capacity, with significant knock on effects.

  • 1 in 8 people in the UK, equating to a total of 6.5 million, are unpaid carers. The cost to the British Economy is an astounding £1.3bn in lost taxes and benefits.
  • An estimated 2.3 million people have given up work to care for a loved one as services were not flexible enough to accomodate them working and taking on a caring role.
  • For those whom have tried desperately to maintain a job in order to fund their family, one third have been forced to give up work or reduce hours because the right services and support was not available for them.
  • Last year, 44% of carers have cut back on heating and 45% have cut back on food. They simply could not afford it.

In Tooting Bec and Balham, let us support them in any way we can. If you have a neighbour or a friend that is a carer, pop in for a chat, say hello and remember that the conversation we have with them that day, may be the only one they have.

CC images courtesy of British Red Cross and Social Innovation Camp on Flickr

Latest threat to the Wheatsheaf – comments needed by 25th August

Campaigners supporting The WheatsheafMy husband knows way more than me about the Wheatsheaf, having visited a lot more regularly than me for many years! He used to go when it was a very Irish pub and quite a different atmosphere too. For the past year I’ve been campaigning to Save the Wheatsheaf because I like this historic building at the centre of Tooting Bec and I don’t like identikit high streets. All of the over 9,000 who signed the campaign petition have all sorts of different reasons too – but united by wanting to save this building as a pub.

Rumours of a supermarket takeover last Summer started the campaign and I organised the first public meeting and have been in the campaign group ever since. Together we have pushed for Council protection for the pub, and now there is an unprecedented set of protection measures in place – it is locally listed as a historic building, it is an official Asset of Community Value and it has an ‘Article 4 Direction’ against demolition of change of use.

More background on the campaign is here: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/save_the_wheatsheaf_updates

The latest threat to the future of the Wheatsheaf is an application put in by the owners to create 9 flats in the two floors above the pub. One floor was being used as a venue for community use and musicians practise area and the current tenants of the pub were hoping to renovate these rooms as more venues for community use.

The proposal for flats would put a stop to this and more worryingly is a well-worn path by other pubs to eventual closure because of complaints by residents in the flats despite knowing they moved in about a pub. I really don’t want to stand by and see this slowly happen to the Wheatsheaf.

We do need more residential units in Wandsworth, but we also need to protect community amenities and in the case of the Wheatsheaf, with its huge public support, this should take precedence.

I’ve make comments in opposition to the planning application on the Wandsworth Planning portal, and so can you up to August 25th. The application number is 2014/3954. Please do follow this link and make a comment – its a really quick and easy form to fill in:

http://ww3.wandsworth.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/GeneralSearch.aspx

New Plans for Tooting Common

I love our local Common and with a bike, four children, a love of running and a dog I’m an extensive user! There are a few big changes coming the way of Tooting Common – and ways in which you can have your say in what they are. Here’s a run down of the changes, and I’ll be sharing more about how to get involved on this blog, in letters and on Twitter as they evolve:

Heritage Lottery Fund
The Council has successfully applied for Lottery funding for heritage related projects on the Common and there will be someone employed to see the first projects done, and then to organise consultations about future projects. The first ones are exploring the history of the Common and installing signs explaining the history behind some of its areas; refurbishing a fountain; and improving the site of an ancient tree, amongst others. There is more information about the history project and how to express interest in being a volunteer here.

Café
The current owners have now got permission to apply for a longer lease and to extend the café to include toilets and a baby change area. This will be a welcome addition to the Common. My son just loves the shocking bright blue bubble gum flavoured ice cream, but the Council can’t regulate everything!

Football pitch next to the Triangle Childrens’ Centre
The opportunity to take up a lease for changing rooms and to upgrade the football pitch was advertised last week, covering the building that used to be a youth club and then a boxing club.

The Great White Line Debate
The issue of how to enable considerate cycling on paths also used by lots of walkers is hotly debated in the Common’s Management and Friend’s groups. The current situation of having a white line doesn’t really work in the view of many. It has become an issue of national importance now and there will be a Secretary of State’s enquiry into this in September. I cycle across Clapham Common every day and really enjoy the separate paths there, but apparently there can’t be any more tarmac on Tooting Common so this can’t be the solution here. I’ll put more information about how to give your opinion on this enquiry here when I have it.

Future of policing for the Common
The Metropolitan Police currently provide the policing service for the Common. This contract is coming up for renewal and other options will be looked into by the Council later in the year.

A couple of websites with more information:
Friends of Tooting Common
Wandsworth Cyclists

 

On being a new councillor

A huge thanks to everyone who voted on election day back in May – and especially for those who voted for Rosena and I. There haven’t been any Labour councillors for our ward since 1990, but we changed this and are very grateful and excited to be your new councillors.

I’ve lived in the ward since 1999 and have gradually become more active in local issues. My four children all went to (or still go to) St Anselms and my husband is from Balham, so I have lots of friends and community connections. I really wanted to give more back to the community and seized the chance of becoming a Councillor.

Last year I got involved in leading campaigns against the cuts to One O’Clock clubs and to save the Wheatsheaf pub from being taken over by a supermarket. Both of these encouraged me that local people working together can make a difference.

Both Rosena and I want to work really hard to be a representative of all local residents to the Council which issues arise, we want to be active and visible in the community, and to especially stand up for the people who are most affected by the cuts in Council services and the continued focus by the Council on making money rather than making better communities. We also live here and love our low council tax.

My priority in being a Councillor will be to serve local people and stand up for everyone in getting better services and response from our local Council, to get better information about what the Council offers to people – and to enable better feedback to the Council about what they should be doing better.

So thanks again for voting for me to be your Councillor, I’m here to serve and do get in touch about anything you think I could help with.