We’re facing a crisis in care likely to affect every one of us over the course of our lives. Care-work is underpaid; its values disregarded. Britain’s society lauds economic growth, productivity and profit over compassion, kindness and empathy. For centuries the caring labours of women have been taken for granted, but with more women now in work, with increasing numbers of elderly and with austerity dismantling the welfare state, care is under pressure as never before.
Over five years, Madeleine Bunting travelled the country, speaking to charity workers, doctors, social workers, in-home carers, nurses, palliative care teams and parents, to explore the value of care, the hidden glue that binds us together. She finds remarkable stories, in GP surgeries, in work undertaken by parents for their disabled children and in end-of-life teams, that conjure a different way of imagining our society and the connections between us. Blending these revelatory testimonies with a history and language of care, and with Bunting’s own experiences of caring for the young and old in her family, Labours of Love is a hugely important portrait of our nation today – and of how it might be – which raises a clarion call for change.