Carers’ manifesto gives candidates a yellow card

Carers’ manifesto gives candidates a yellow card

Monday February 14 2011

A mother who cares for her severely disabled son round the clock has become the public face of a ‘yellow card’ campaign targeting election candidates.

Alison McKim, from Terenure in Dublin, who looks after her son Zach (19), has fronted the campaign in a bid to highlight the plight of the country’s 160,000 carers.

“Zach is totally dependent. He was born with with cerebral palsy, is blind and suffers from seizures,” said Alison at the pre-election manifesto launch by the Carers’ Association.

She had only managed to get a few hours’ sleep the night before.

“Zach got quite chesty at about 10pm last night and I had to give him nebulisers and chest physiotherapy.

“By the time he was settled back it was 1.30am and he was awake at 4.30am this morning, suffering a couple of seizures.

“Thankfully they were not too bad and we got him back to sleep at 5.30am and we were back up again at 6.30am to get him up and ready for the day, giving medications and spoon feeding.”

Alison is reliant on the carers’ allowance of €204 a week but that was cut by €8 in the Budget.

She is thankful to the Carers’ Association for providing some hours respite every week but sometimes those 12 hours are the only time she can leave the house.

The yellow cards have been distributed across the country and feature Alison and Zach with a simple message: Act now for Ireland‘s invisible workforce.

Carers have been given a list of questions to put to candidates in advance of the election.

Enda Egan, the organisation’s chief executive, appealed to candidates to call to carers’ doors as so many are housebound.

The carers are also mounting their first virtual campaign which involves pictures of themselves holding up messages which can be uploaded and sent to They are emailed to candidates.

Some of the poignant messages so far underline the carers’ despair.

One woman says: “Slave labour — do you work for less than €1 an hour?”

Another young girl looking after a relative simply says: “All work, no play.”

Mr Egan said family carers felt badly let down despite promises to protect the most vulnerable in society.

He said they had been the victims of harsh cuts and much reduced support services.

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