Bristol Women’s Commission event: A Caring Economy – Who Cares Wins!

By Diane Bunyan, Chair of the Economy Task Group

Bristol Women’s Commission’s Economy Task Group‘s successful event – A Caring Economy – Who Cares Wins – took place on 17 October 2022.

It brought together childcare and social care providers paid and unpaid; City of Bristol College delivering care qualifications; policy makers; grassroots groups and women’s organisations; receivers of care; Parenting in the Pandemic community researchers; political representatives; academics and employers – to focus on what would need to be in place for Bristol to invest in the caring economy.

The Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy led by the Women’s Budget Group defines the vision of a caring economy as one that:

  • Has the wellbeing of individuals, communities and the planet at its heart.
  • Values the care that nurtures us all.
  • Ensures that no one faces discrimination, violence or poverty.

Bristol Women’s Commission Economy Task group picked up the mantle along with the event’s sponsors – City Of Bristol College, Fair Play South West, Bristol Women’s Voice, and the University of Bristol, who came together in solidarity with one another for a Caring Economy for Bristol.

We shared experiences and heard from inspirational speakers demonstrating the vision of a thriving economy with care at its heart, investing in childcare social care and in the social infrastructure more generally, so that all may thrive in society. We are all cared for at some point in our lives and many will provide care so why is it ignored and marginalised?

We heard positive examples of employers who attract and retain staff when they invest in childcare and time to care, making it possible for women to combine work with caring responsibilities and so move forward in their careers; how a career in care is fulfilling especially with support for professional development; and how person-centred care, putting the service user at the centre and listening to their expertise, delivers a better service for everyone.

At the same time participants were without doubt – we are in the throes of a care crisis.

Speakers underlined the impact of low wages and poor prospects resulting in many staff leaving employment in both childcare and social care; funding from government both local and national being cut so care employers are not able to offer the wages and conditions they would want. Carers recounted how the needs of those receiving care or providing informal (unpaid) care are not being heard and how they are pushed to the margins especially with the cost of living crisis.

The workshops identified the changes required to make Bristol‘s economy one with caring at its heart – a cultural change that values care; a circular economy keeping investment in the local community through procurement based on social value; any new regeneration developments in the city to have childcare written into them; parity in pay between health and social care workers; overcoming time poverty with paid leave for carers.

These are just some of the demands to go forward into a Caring Manifesto for Bristol that Bristol Women’s Commission’s Economy Task Group will be drawing together with all those who contributed to the day.

Watch this space…

Photos by Tina Gue

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