Speaking at a Charity Leaders’ Network lunch (ACEVO) in Birmingham last week, the Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley said that the “tough commissioning regime” for national and local government service contracts means that the wages of “many carers are depressed”.
He said that his own diocesan agency, the Father Hudson Society, is currently “grappling with the issue of how to move carers in residential care for frail elderly and those with dementia up to the Living Wage”. It is also looking at how best to make quality care “affordable to those of low income and with no capital”.
The Archbishop highlighted how the “recent scandals in care homes” have shone a light on the need for “good, motivated, properly trained and properly supervised staff to provide real care for very vulnerable old people”.
He revealed how a social action Covenant is currently being considered by the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group. He said that “the Covenant would be a joint commitment between our faith communities and the local authority to a set of principles that would guide our engagement together, aiming to remove some of the mistrust that can exist and promoting open, practical working on all levels”. The Birmingham Faith Leaders Group was founded after the 9/11 terrorist attack and brings together leaders of the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh communities of the city.
Drawing attention to some of the award winning social action work being carried out by projects linked to the Catholic Church in Birmingham, the Archbishop said that recent research shows that there are over 600 individual Catholic projects in the Birmingham Archdiocese “working to relieve poverty in its broadest sense and building better and stronger communities”. These projects are run by 3000 volunteers and over 300 paid staff and often this work is carried out in collaboration with other Christian denominations, faith communities and/or voluntary agencies.
The Church supports “the Big Society plan of the Conservative Party to encourage communities to come together to address their problems locally,” the Archbishop said. Adding that “even before the Big Society, (the Church) has been encouraging this collaborative approach”.
The full speech given by Archbishop Longley can be downloaded from the top right hand corner of this page.