Every week in Burnley and Padiham I meet people and visit organisations that are impressive. I am always especially inspired by the people behind the scenes, many of whom struggle week in and week out, with very little funding to provide services and facilities for those who need them most. This week was no exception and I was very pleased to accept an invitation to visit the ASD Centre in Harle Syke. The Centre at Kingsmill provides a safe and supportive environment for autistic children and adults and is also an invaluable resource for parents and family members. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. If sufferers are not properly diagnosed and supported the condition can be very distressing both for the individual and for their family. Autism is often associated with high levels of intelligence and it is important that individuals are properly supported to develop their full potential. The staff at Kingsmill , many of whom are volunteers are fully trained and really committed and they provide activities and support 7 days a week for children and adults from across East Lancashire. I believe that we are really lucky to have this centre in Burnley and I sincerely hope that Government funding cuts will not jeopardise the facility that is truly a lifeline for so many.
Care and carers are very much at the forefront of my mind at the moment as I continue my efforts via my Private Members Bill to introduce free hospital car parking for carers. There is no doubt that carers save the NHS billions of pounds every year. Caring for someone in need whether it be an old person, a chronically sick child or a disabled person is no small task and often means that the carer has to give up their own job and many suffer financial difficulties. It seems to me that they need and deserve our support and the very least we can do is to allow them to park for free at the hospital. I am very grateful to the Carers who have come forward to share their experiences with me. I came across one lady (Eileen) this week who gave up her career 3 years ago when her mother developed dementia. Eileen’s mother recently had a fall and is in hospital. The cost of petrol and car parking fees Eileen tells me now means that her entire carer’s allowance, which is her only income is used up on hospital visiting.
I have heard many similar stories and it really important that I do hear them because I need as much evidence as possible to persuade the Conservative Government to support my Bill. If you are a carer you can contact me directly or if you prefer you can share your experience at www.carers.uk.org