Entertainment

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Rhod Gilbert blasts Government for ‘deliberate hacking away’ at public services

The comedian called for improved funding for dementia care after his mother suffered from the disease.

Rhod Gilbert’s mother died in 2016 after developing Alzheimer’s (Yui Mok/PA)
Rhod Gilbert’s mother died in 2016 after developing Alzheimer’s (Yui Mok/PA)

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Rhod Gilbert has accused the Government of “a deliberate hacking away at almost all public and social services until there is nothing left” as he called for improved funding for dementia care.

The comedian, whose mother died in 2016 after developing Alzheimer’s in her 80s, said too much responsibility falls on charities to help ease the pressure on families.

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Rhod Gilbert as a baby with mother Norma (Alzheimer’s Society)

He told the PA news agency: “My message to the Government would be change tack completely and go down a completely different route where we fund things properly and don’t cut, cut, cut until everything is in crisis and then panic.

“It feels to me like it’s a deliberate hacking away at almost all public and social services until there is nothing left and it’s privatised. It’s hard not to see it any other way.”

He added: “Just generally everything is falling on charities really and I, as somebody in the public eye, am just bombarded every single day with requests to patronise a charity or to raise funds.

“I’m doing charity stuff left right and centre, whether it’s to raise money for books for a school or a new playground for a nursery school.

“It just feels like with austerity or whatever, everything is in crisis and it’s being left to volunteers with buckets outside Sainsbury’s or outside my gigs or wherever they might be and charities and people like me, I guess, to try and help where you can and it’s very sad really.”

Gilbert is joining Vicky McClure and Sir Tony Robinson in supporting Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walks to raise funds for dementia research and support after his family received help from the charity when his mother was diagnosed.

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Sir Tony Robinson with parents Leslie and Phyllis, who suffered from dementia (Alzheimer’s Society)

He said: “We started dealing with them as punters as my mum died in 2016 and Alzheimer’s killed her really. She couldn’t swallow anymore, she just couldn’t live, her brain didn’t really allow her to live anymore and that was three years ago this week.

“Before that we got help and guidance from the Alzheimer’s Society and found them useful just as a family because my dad cared for my mum at home, she never went into an institution or anything so he did it all and we used them as a resource, they were very helpful.”

He added: “My dad literally fed her, washed her, carried her to bed and dealt with the whole diminishing memory for about five years and he just coped one way or another, sometimes really well and sometimes it was really tough as you can imagine.

“It is a shock as it gets worse, she always knew who I was right until the day she died, I sat there for three days with her as she died and she didn’t speak to me much but I think she knew right to the very end but she would confuse my dad with her dad and she would think she was in her old family home, which she had left 50 years ago.

“It’s the hardest when you have been used to talking to somebody and having real conversations and now that is gone and you realise that is gone forever and there is no bringing it back.

“It’s gone and she’s gone and you will never have that again, it’s odd, it’s like a death but not a death.”

The Memory Walks will take place all over the UK during September and October and Gilbert said he will join one wherever he can while on his stand-up tour around the country.

Register to take part at www.memorywalk.org.uk

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