Action for Carers Surrey was established in April 1992 after a group of carers and supporters saw the need for an organisation that would recognise carers in the county – and make those in positions of power sit up and take notice.
At the time, there was little acknowledgement of what carers did by either politicians or the general public. Looking after relatives and close friends was seen as family duty and very few of those who did the caring felt they could expect to have formal recognition for any needs and rights of their own.
Putting carers on the map
Driving the new organisation forward were representatives from the voluntary sector, including Surrey Voluntary Service Council, Age Concern Surrey, Crossroads, Leonard Cheshire, Carers National Association Woking and Carers Support Woking, plus representatives from health and social care. Included in their ranks were our former CEO, Jane Thornton, former Chair Janice Clark, and our former Finance and Support Services Manager, Angela Goman-Smith as well as Jill Pitkeathley, then CEO of Carers National Association, now Baroness Pitkeathley, a champion of carers’ rights in the House of Lords. Between them, the group resolved to create an organisation with influence which would put carers’ issues in Surrey firmly on the map. Most importantly, it would be owned and run by carers, for carers.
In those early days, founders of the fledgling Action for Carers Surrey (ACS) considered how they would tackle some of the key issues: preparing and distributing essential information to carers, publicising the circumstances of carers, raising awareness of carers with professionals and establishing a mouthpiece for carers which would provide vital evidence for turning issues into policy. These were the foundations on which ACS was established and which remain central to what ACS stands for today.