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Archbishops’ new commission will examine gaps in care provision

20 April 2021

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THE Archbishops of Canterbury and York are to set up a new commission to look at the crisis in the care system in the UK, it was announced on Tuesday.

The object is to develop “a radical and inspiring vision, drawing on Christian theology and tradition, that reimagines care and support”, the announcement said. The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, said that, during the lockdown, “We have become more aware of gaps in our society: we have not sufficiently valued and loved many people in care and those living with a disability.”

The 12-strong commission will be co-chaired by the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd John Newcome, the lead bishop on health and healing, and Dr Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, a former member of the advisory group to the Independent Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland, and director of strategy and chief analyst at the Department of Health, 2013-15.

The commission is the third to emerge from Reimagining Britain, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2018 book, reissued last week. The commission on housing reported earlier this year (News, 21 February), and a commission on families and households was launched a month later (News, 18 March).

According to the press notice on Tuesday, the new commission “aims to articulate the enduring values and principles which should underpin care and caring. It will seek to shape how we respond to ageing and disability in our society, challenging existing attitudes and models of care, where appropriate, and highlighting the positive and where things are working well.”

It will also “contribute to the national debate on the purpose of care and support and inform how care is provided in future, by identifying practical ideas, informed by extensive listening, and gathering examples of good practice”. The plan is work out how best to support churches in their pastoral work, as well as influence public policy over the provision of care.

Dr Dixon said this week: “Sadly, today, too many people are without the care and support they need to live a full life. . .

“There is an urgent need for a new vision for care that is clear about its purpose and value and the values that underpin it — vision that puts people and relationships at its heart and redefines the status of caregivers, both paid and unpaid, and those who need care and support.

“We need to make some radical changes if we are to support one another to live well and fully participate, regardless of age and ability; this is an issue for all of us, for the Church, other faith communities, and wider society.”

The other members of the commission are yet to be announced.

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