Leeds Citizens call for Care Workers pay rise

More than fifty residents joined the Bishop of Kirkstall and other faith leaders to show their support for staff at Sunnyview House in Beeston on Thursday afternoon (2 July 2020).

The event was part of a day of action campaigning for the real Living Wage. Leeds Citizens, a local branch of community organising charity Citizens UK, is calling on the government to provide a £1.4 billion cash boost to bring all social care workers up to the real Living Wage of £9.30 across the UK and £10.75 in London.

Those present made a visual demonstration of their love for social care workers by surrounding the building in a “socially distanced embrace” followed by a round of applause.

The Rt Rev Paul Slater, Bishop of Kirkstall (Area Bishop for the City of Leeds) said:

“During this crisis we have all appreciated the invaluable role that social care workers have played in looking after some of the most vulnerable members of our community. The very least we can do is to ensure that their patience, love and care is rewarded properly, so care workers no longer live in poverty. It’s time for the government to step in and guarantee that all care workers are paid at least the real Living Wage.”

The Rev Lindsey Pearson, Vicar of Beeston added:

“This action is a way of showing our thanks for care workers at Sunnyview and all people who work in nursing, residential and domiciliary care. They represent the very best of our community. It is heart-warming to see the community come together to show our appreciation for a sector that has been undervalued for far too long. Let’s now ensure that our wonderful care workers get the real Living Wage and all the support they need to thrive in their important vocation.”

The campaign received backing from the Archbishop of York, the Royal College of Nursing, UNISON and other civic society leaders after a petition appealing for the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to ensure care workers are paid at least the real Living Wage was launched by Tabitha, a care worker who had spent 29 days ill with COVID-19 and was left reliant on food donations.

Recent evidence from the Resolution Foundation reveals that almost half (500,000) of all frontline care workers currently earn below the real Living Wage, and new research from the Living Wage Foundation finds around 280,000 social care employees are in insecure and low paid work that leaves them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

The event in Beeston followed a smaller show of appreciation at Middleton Lodge care home where Rev Andy Myers joined the Bishop and representatives of Leeds Citizens to offer a prayer and gifts for staff there.