2003-2014 Breaking point
Family carers of people with a learning disability do an amazing job. Many devote their entire lives to caring for their son, daughter, brother, sister, and they do so out of love. But caring for someone – sometimes 24 hours a day, seven days a week – can be exhausting.
Give me a break
Family carers need regular breaks from their caring responsibilities, and the people they care for need to spend time with other people. Short breaks – or respite services – allow the whole family to have some time away; they enable carers to keep on doing the amazing job they do.
8 out of 10 family carers reached breaking point
In 2003, Mencap launched the Breaking Point campaign because we knew that too many families were being denied the short breaks they desperately needed. Our research found that 8 out of 10 family carers had reached breaking point - a moment of crisis when they felt they simply could not go on.
This is not the result of caring for someone with a learning disability, it is the result of constant caring without a break.
We highlight the failings
In the first of three Breaking Point reports, Mencap highlighted this huge failing and called for the Government and local councils to ensure every family who needs a short break gets one.
Our follow-up report in 2006 found that little had changed, and in fact cuts to local services were starting to bite, taking away the minimal support families had been relying on.
In 2013 we released our third and final report which found that, ten years on, 8 out of 10 family carers were still reaching breaking point and 4 out of 10 families had had their short breaks services cut. On the back of this report, we asked people to write to their local councils, urging them to stop cuts to these vital services.
The government and local authorities listen
The Breaking Point campaign shone a light on this shameful situation and in 2007 and 2010 the Government gave specific pots of money to local councils for short breaks.
Since our campaign, we know many councils have listened and are protecting funding for short breaks. Others, however, have not, and we continue to get calls from families up and down the country who are facing cuts to their much-needed short breaks services. Wherever we can, we are working with them to fight for these services, and we have had a good many victories.
To find out more about cuts campaigning, see our Don’t cut us out page.