Day one – September 3, 2015 (sent by Anna at 1.30am this morning)
A moose spotted in the countryside near Gothenburg, Sweden
WOW – what an amazing first night and introduction to what I think is going to be a truly fascinating experience.
I bumped into an old friend of Carers’ Resource Mary Larkin, who presented at our Caring Callers conference in the UK and is now on the Standing Commission on Carers with our Director.
As we stood chatting near an exhibition stall we were welcomed by two Swedish colleagues who run a mental health support organisation for carers and those they care for. They explained that in Sweden mental health is still extremely taboo, possibly even more so than drug or alcohol problems, and that carers remain very much hidden.
Next, following the welcome address I met more colleagues from academia – including our very own Jenny Read, a PhD student who’s working with Carers’ Resource. As we enjoyed some delicious Swedish nibbles we were joined by two gents from the Carers Association in Ireland.
We discussed access to politicians and decision makers – extremely interesting to learn that due to the relatively small size of their country they feel very close and able to discuss openly with their political leaders carers’ issues, although they are currently debating an issue over carers allowance – a very generous benefit of more than about 200 euro a week, and whether it should be exportable.
A complex but very interesting and relevant issue, given the recent concern in England over whether carers allowance would remain or be included in other more overarching payments.