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Social-care system is ‘broken’ Archbishop of Canterbury says in New Year message

03 January 2023

Caring is ‘at the heart of what it means to be human’ Archbishop Welby says

YouTube/Lambeth Palace

Archbishop Welby delivers his New Year message from MHA Bradbury Grange in Whitstable

Archbishop Welby delivers his New Year message from MHA Bradbury Grange in Whitstable

THE social-care system in the UK is “broken” but can be fixed by ordinary families, communities, and the Government, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said in his New Year message.

His video message began with footage of people queuing to pay their respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II, lying in state. When Archbishop Welby had ministered to the queue, people had, he said, “looked out for each other day and night. It’s one thing to do that for a few hours, another when we need to give or receive care day after day. Then we all need help.”

The Archbishop was speaking from MHA Bradbury Grange — a residential care home in Whitstable in Canterbury diocese. “Like many coastal areas it has a high proportion of elderly people. People here — like everywhere — are dealing with rising costs,” he said.

“Care homes are struggling too. Bills have risen; hiring and keeping staff is a challenge. Why work as a carer when you might get paid more in less demanding jobs? Caring’s not easy. Good carers are wonderful people to be valued. Like Anne: who has worked as a carer at this care home for over 42 years.”

Anne Campbell, who is a senior care assistant at the home, told the Archbishop of the difficulties of the work, and staff shortages. “It is a hard job. It is a dedicated job to do. But it is a lovely job, too,” she said.

YouTube/Lambeth PalaceYouTube/Lambeth Palace

Archbishop Welby continued: “We know our care system is broken: but it doesn’t have to be. We can rise to the challenge of fixing it. That means action from all of us; you, me, families, communities, and government.”

He pointed to a forthcoming report he had commissioned with the Archbishop of York, which he said would offer a new vision for social care in the country. It is titled Care and Support Reimagined and will be published on 24 January.

“It will offer a hopeful vision of our society,” Archbishop Welby said. “One where no one is held back, over-looked or treated as a burden — where families and unpaid carers get support too.

“Caring goes to the heart of what it means to be human. It’s hard, but it can also be the most life-giving thing we ever do. It comes back to that essential lesson: we need each other.

“Jesus reminds us of the value of every single person, young or old. He challenges me to love everyone as I know he loves me. For love alone, Jesus came into our difficult world. I pray that in the hard times and the good, you find yourself loved and cared for.”

The chair of the Archbishops’ Commission, Dr Anna Dixon MBE, said that the report would “address some of the long-standing challenges affecting social care and set out a hopeful vision of what care and support could and should be like.

“We cannot simply tinker around the edges of the existing social care system. We need a new settlement that gives choice and control to people who draw on care and support, equips and empowers communities, and offers far greater support and recognition to unpaid carers.”

Lambeth PalaceArchbishop Welby listens to a resident of MHA Bradbury Grange

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, who co-chairs the Commission, said: “We are making the case, rooted deeply in our Christian convictions and values, that our whole understanding of social care should reflect the aspirations of people who draw on care and support, paid and unpaid carers, and wider society.

“Faith communities have a huge role to play in ensuring that people are able to participate in worship and community life, regardless of their age or ability, and are supported to live well.”

The chief executive of Methodist Homes (MHA), Sam Monaghan, said of Archbishop Welby’s visit to Bradbury Grange: “Staff shared with him how they support everyone living at the home and what it involves to provide good quality care. The visit meant so much to us.”

Watch the Archbishop’s New Year message here:

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