There is significant debate about the UK’s approach to immigration and workforce planning, due to intended changes to the way we allow non-UK citizens to come here to live and work.
Colleagues will tell you I don’t raise my voice. Anger is not one of my characteristics. However, I’m bursting with fury over this issue.
While I don’t think I have calmed down quite yet, I have done my best to find the words to express my feelings as it is important to share these with the community.
The society we live in places a value on the different roles we play. We are often amazed at the obscene salaries people in all sorts of industries command and somehow we equate money earned with skills and performance.
Indeed, to quote the official UK government website on the proposed new points-based system, priority will be given to those with “the highest skills and the greatest talents: scientists, engineers, academics and other highly-skilled workers.”
I do not doubt that these people are indeed highly skilled. But unfortunately, it is what comes next that upset me and I suspect, upsets many of you too. The new policy makes a direct link between low skilled workers and cheap labour.
I invite you to come and spend a day shadowing the care workers who are providing round the clock support to hundreds of members of the Jewish community. If you do, as I have done, you will see my colleagues demonstrate not just huge skill but an enormous range of skills too.
Yes, they are carers and yes, they are performing personal care, but they are also much more than that.
- Read more: My invaluable day on the front line of care
They are befrienders to the lonely, counsellors to families at the most difficult of times, producing highly complex meals for people with Dysphagia, and are required to function at the highest levels, dealing with Dementia and challenging behaviours that others simply cannot cope with.
They are required to handle complex machinery and technology, as well as administering medication which ensures the very best care is delivered. It is a physically and emotionally demanding job, 12 hours a day.
To describe what my colleagues do as low-skilled is to completely misunderstand and misrepresent all that they do.
Of course, we recognise that society places a value on these roles and we, at Jewish Care, do our best to improve how we reward and recognise the wealth of talent we see every day and night.
However, like many other organisations in the care sector, we will add our voice to the disappointment being expressed about policies which run the risk of ruining an already broken social care system.
One of the privileges I have as a CEO is to be the recipient of fantastic compliments about our highly-skilled staff. Families are eternally grateful for the love and compassion they experience.
We take enormous pride in the people we have working for us, who come from across the globe (70 nations at the last count).
In moments of anger and frustration, I remember this and remember that we too are a community of immigrants.
We should never forget where we came from and should always be careful with our choice of words.