The new award scheme will highlight the terrific work being done by carers and by those who help and support them. The government will be looking for the widest range of nominations for all across the country.
Launching the scheme in Carers' Week, health minister John Hutton said: 'There are millions of unsung heroes out there, caring for friends, family and relatives. We want to do everything we can to recognise their contribution and to support them in their caring role.
'We now have the first ever national strategy for carers to help achieve that. And the awards we are announcing today are another way of recognising those who are carers themselves and the people who support them.'
Recognition will be given to people who carers think have made a difference. That could be individuals, employers or local services which have dealt sensitively with the needs of people who care for others who are sick, disabled, vulnerable or frail.
Diana Whitworth, chief executive of Carers' National Association, today welcomed the initiative. She said: 'We support this scheme to highlight all that is best in services and organisations which support carers. It is another way for carers to make their views known. For a long time, carers have felt inadequately supported and these awards will help to increase the number of services which recognise carers and support them better.'
John Hutton also published an open letter to the carers' organisations in which he commits the government to implementing most of the key changes in the National Strategy for Carers by April 2000.
- a new£140m grant over three years to help local authorities give carers a break from caring;
- a long-term care charter setting out what people can expect from housing, health and social services;
- a reduction in council tax for disabled people and their carers who live in the lowest rated properties.
1. The 'Caring about Carers', awards will be run by a steering group. The group will decide on the criteria under which services to carers will be deemed to have succeeded; will distribute nomination forms to individual carers; and will publicise these new awards.
2. The government's national strategy for carers was published on 8 February 1999.
3. The awards ceremony to recognise excellence in the provision of services to carers will be held at around the first anniversary of publication of the national strategy ie in February/March 2000.