Care Questions : Article 13Care Questions : Article 13

Your Care Questions Answered by Angela Gifford - ARTICLE No.13

"I work full time but I am also a carer for my elderly Mother who lives in the next village. From time to time I have to ask for time off for appointments connected with my Mother and her care but my employers do not seem happy when I make such requests. Do I have the right to ask for such time off in the same way that parents with children can have time off for school appointments, child illness, etc?"

Answer : Recent research has shown that there are over 3 million working carers in a similar position to yourself and the Government has now recognised that there is a need to extend the same rights to carers to request flexible working as is currently available to parents. At the present time, you can request time off if you are a carer but this is only for an emergency situation. Therefore, you do not have an automatic right to time off but in the future all businesses and organisations will have to look seriously at bringing in Carer Flexible Employment Policies. An organisation called Parents at Work also embraces the reality of working carers and you may find it helpful to obtain their Fact Pack on flexible working. Their telephone number is 0171 628 3565

"I am nearing retirement age and have worked on and off throughout my life. I would like to find out how much pension I can expect and whether as a single person I can claim other benefits when I retire. Is there someone I can actually go and speak to locally?"

Answer - The Pension Service has been set up to do just that. Part of their remit is to advise people who are nearing retirement age about their pension, how much, how it will be delivered to you and also about any other benefits you may be entitled to. There are local surgeries throughout the UK and to find out the nearest one to you telephone 0845 60 60 265. Mon - Fri 8am-8pm and Sat 9am-1pm.

The service is also available to pensioners who have any queries about their pension.

"I am a single, retired person and I am looking for information on holidays for single people. Can you help?"

Answer : Most travel companies can provide holidays for the single traveller and you can find such information by going to most high street travel agents or contacting a holiday company such as Saga. If you like walking, then contact the Ramblers Association. However, there is an organisation called STAG, The Single Travellers Action Group which you may also wish to contact.

They are a campaigning organisation on behalf of single people on issues such as single person travel supplements and single room extra costs. You can become a member for a £10 annual fee. Once a member you will receive three newsletters per year which will give details of hotels and holidays which are supplement cost free. STAG also arrange holidays for single people during the year. For details of STAG write to STAG, Church Lane, Sharnbrook, Bedford. MK44 1HR

"I am planning to buy a new refrigerator but the shop will not take my old one away. I am told that the refuse collectors will not take it either, What do I do with it?"

Answer : The legal position is that from January 2002 ozone depleting substances (such as are in refrigerators and freezers) must be removed from the equipment before it is scrapped. It is your local authorities responsibility to ensure that all ozone depleting substances are removed before dispersal.

So if you are a householder your local Council is obliged to provide a collection service al though they can charge a collection fee.

However, check if you have a local civic amenity site and if you can take your fridge there you can dispose of it free of charge.

One other possible way of getting rid of such items if they are clean and in good working order, is to contact local charities who may be pleased to accept them.

"I wish to find an NHS dentist, where do look?"

Answer : If you have access to the Internet the easiest way to find one is to go to The National Health Service - Local services search. Here you can find out about services local to your post code, including dentists. The site for dentists also gives you information on the dental practices and as to whether they are taking NHS patients for treatment.