Ahead of a crucial week for Northern Ireland, Inspire CEO Kerry Anthony wrote to the leaders of the main political parties, the Secretary of State and the Head of the Civil Service, reminding them of the need to ensure that social care staff in the voluntary and community sector are not forgotten in any new financial packages or deals.

Kerry offered Inspire’s ‘full support to ongoing negotiations to press home the need for a fair deal in terms of pay, terms and conditions and safe staffing levels for public sector staff including our colleagues in health and social care.

She added: ‘I would urge you to bear in mind that, as an independent charity, our staff teams in Inspire, and in many other third sector organisations like us, also deliver public services but will, on the face of it, not benefit from any agreed new financial package.  We believe that the social care staff at Inspire deserve to have the same level of consideration of their pay and terms and conditions as our statutory sector colleagues.

Kerry outlined the valuable work of ‘over 600 [Inspire] staff in Northern Ireland supporting thousands of people living with mental ill health, addictions and intellectual disability through contracts with the statutory sector in every Health and Social Care Trust area.’ She further highlighted the pressures facing charities that deliver public services, including rising costs, reduced budgets and commissioners struggling under the weight of political and financial uncertainty.

She ended the letter by reiterating Inspire’s call for a return of a devolved government in Northern Ireland. ‘It is our sincere hope that the current rounds of talks result in a return to a devolved government in Northern Ireland and we look forward to working with you in the Assembly and Executive. As discussions on the financial packages to address the most pressing social issues in Northern Ireland progress I ask that you consider the services provided by Inspire and other organisations in our sector, and the dedicated staff teams who deliver them.’