The carers’ movement is today one of the most successful of all the voluntary sector initiatives that began in the early 1960s. The term carer however was not even in the dictionaries until 1988. The origins of carers lie in the concept of the ‘dutiful daughter’ prevalent in the 19th century: the daughter giving up everything to look after her elderly/sick parents.
Eventually in 1960 one such daughter spoke out about her situation – the equivalent of ‘house arrest’ she said and was amazed to find she was far from alone. From this initial public cry a politically astute and emotionally powerful movement began. I was invited to write an account of the movement two years ago and had access to all the archives – well ordered and complete! They show why the movement was so successful as well as highlighting some of the early organisational strains and rivalries.
The work of the carers’ national organisation continues and is still needed but there are lessons today from the history both for the carers body itself as well as other newer voluntary sector developments.