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Sometimes relatives of children or adults with disabilities
This means they cannot work anymore.
They should be able to work and take care of their family.
There was a meeting to discuss this issue in the European Parliament.
COFACE organised this meeting.
The Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE) organised a seminar called Reconciling Work and Care responsibilities: a challenge for family carers in Europe at the European Parliament. The conference, hosted by MEP Marian Harkin, took place on June 26, 2012.
Some 80 million Europeans are currently living with a disability, which roughly accounts to 15% of the total EU population. 1 in 4 Europeans has someone in their family living with a disability. Many of these people are either full or part-time carers for their disabled relative.
Ágnes Uhereczky, Director of COFACE explained the reasoning behind the conference: "We organised this event yesterday to highlight the work of ordinary people who are selflessly performing extraordinary tasks behind closed doors, often risking their own health and their own happiness. We want to trigger a holistic policy response, urge Member States to stop cutting funds which is detrimental to the quality of care, and instead invest in structures and services that would enable a real freedom of choice for reconciling care and working life"
COFACE also states that family carers are more prone to suffer from mental and physical health problems than other people. They are also at greater risk of poverty, isolation and loneliness. Family members have been known to report experiencing discrimination by association. This means being discriminated for having a family member with a disability.
MEP Harkin, President of the European Parliament Interest Group on Carers, said at the conference that “In today’s challenging environment, it is increasingly important to provide the necessary support for family carers, who often make immense sacrifices, giving up their health and wealth to undertake care responsibilities towards their elderly or disabled relatives.”
The conference featured speakers from different organisational backgrounds including representatives from the European Commission, employers’ associations, carers' associations and professionals from the health and social care sector.
The subjects discussed during the three hour meeting were varied, they talked about family carers, ageing population and its challenges, the gender dimension, the current economic situation, the cuts in public funding and possible solutions.
The organisers paid special attention to the gender dimension. According to COFACE, an overwhelming majority of family carers are women, some of whom caring for their disabled child or children as single mums, while many either working full or part-time.
COFACE also took advantage of the event to present their proposal towards designating the European Year 2014 as European Year for Reconciling Work and Family Life.
Source: Reconciling Work and Care responsibilities: a challenge for family carers in Europe Conference's Press release.