The Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey MP, and the party’s by-election candidate for Tiverton & Honiton, Richard Foord, have met with unpaid carers in the constituency at an event organised by Devon Carers to mark Carers Week. 

Sir Ed Davey, who’s been a carer for most of his life, approached the organisation to ask if he and Richard Foord could attend an event at the National Trust’s Knightshayes Court near Tiverton, organised as part of a special diary of activities for Carers Week.

The duo chatted over afternoon tea with around a dozen unpaid carers, including members of staff from Devon Carers and a number of its local carer ambassadors.

The Lib Dem leader, whose party is challenging the Tories in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election later this month, has represented the interests of carers publicly and in Parliament. 

Ed Davey told representatives of Devon Carers he wanted to find out for himself what the service offers. He spent an hour talking to carers about the issues they face, and the particular challenges for those in rural parts of the county. Afterwards he said, “I’ve been a carer for most of my life. First as a young carer for my mum, then for my grandmother, and now my wife and I have a disabled son. From talking to people here today, I get the impression that some of the services withdrawn because of the pandemic just haven’t come back, which adds an extra dimension of challenge to their already difficult role.”

He added, “The positive thing I’m taking away from these conversations is the amazing ideas and practical help from Devon Carers, in particular the work they do in respect of hospital discharge. By working closely with community volunteers, they are able to provide vital support for the first six weeks, as well as practical stuff like organising deep cleaning services and moving beds downstairs. This wraparound support saves the NHS a lot of money and gets people home quicker.” 

Andy Hood, Head of Carer Services at Westbank/Devon Carers, said, “It’s a real privilege to be able to welcome Sir Ed Davey to one of our Carers Week events this year.  With Ed’s own experiences of caring, it’s great to know he understands the challenges that carers face and is keen to support them and help make a better future for them.“

The National Trust is among the organisations that have signed up to support the Carer Friendly Devon scheme by becoming a carer-friendly employer. Devon Carers provides training to help NT staff and volunteers to become carer aware, for example, by supporting carers and cared-for people when they visit NT properties.