We still have the notes from our first ever phone call with Jill Pitkeathley, then CEO of the United Kingdom's Carers National Association, in the early 1990s.
The carers who founded Carers NZ were in the process of finding out how other countries supported their family carers. Those were pre-internet days when discovering who was who in the world of caring wasn't as simple as a Google search.
Jill was later made a Labour peer for her work supporting family carers, and while she moved to other leadership roles for some great causes, she never lost her passion for bringing the issues and importance of family caring out of the shadows. Most recently Baroness Pitkeathley has continued her work for the organisation now known as Carers UK in various governance roles and has also had leadership roles for Eurocarers, the coalition of European peak bodies for carers.
In the notes Jill encouraged the first carers in our network to overcome their nervousness about whether they could build a national group of carers in New Zealand.
Later Jill was instrumental when, during visits to Carers NZ conferences, she urged political leaders to implement a Carers' Strategy (this was done in 2008 by the then Labour government; planning is now underway for its third five year Action Plan).
And with her encouragement Carers NZ also established the Carers' Alliance of not for profits in 2004, to pursue in unity a Carers' Strategy and other 'big picture' outcomes for carers. She Cares, campaigning for improved economic recognition for family carers and all the women in those roles, is part of that big picture.
In the UK Baroness Pitkeathley has helped to shape and shepherd legislation giving carers recognition and rights, and remains a global leader for the caring cause wearing various philanthropic hats.
Thank you Jill for your encouragement over many years for Carers NZ and for our country's family carers.