The Spring EfC networking event took place virtually on 21 April 2021 and it was wonderful to see so many new and familiar faces on screen! The theme of the event was ‘Identification and Self-Identification: Recognising and acknowledging carers in the workplace’, and we were pleased to hear a lot of thoughtful discussion and sharing of best practice around the subject.
The event was opened and chaired by Nick Baird, who has served as Chair of Carers UK since October 2020. The landscape for caring has changed fundamentally over the course of the pandemic, with research showing that many more employees are juggling work and care. A key challenge for employers is to ensure that we communicate clearly and regularly about caring to encourage carers to identify themselves and come forward for support.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, provided an organisational update, summarising some of the key work undertaken by the charity since the last networking event in November as well as looking to the future. Among news highlighted was the announcement in February of a five-year strategic partnership between Carers UK and Virgin Media, which will use technology and innovation to address the loneliness experienced by 8 in 10 unpaid carers. Carers UK are also eagerly awaiting the news of the government’s forthcoming response to last year’s consultation on the introduction of statutory carers leave. With the pandemic adding more pressure on carers than ever before, recognising and acknowledging carers in the workplace has never been so topical or so important.
During the discussion it was observed that the responsibility should not sit exclusively with carers to self-identify, and the importance of employers better recognising carers within their workforce was stressed; this led onto some really useful updates and insights from three member organisations. The importance of staff surveys to gather data was discussed, as well as understanding what the impact of that information is and using it to improve services. Leadership commitment was also pinpointed as critical to making improvements for services for carers.
A Q&A session followed these member updates, with questions relating to better connecting up the support offered by employers and local services, employees who struggle to work at set times and might lose hours due to caring responsibilities, and the potential of extending support to third-party suppliers.
Katherine Wilson, Head of Employment Carers UK, then highlighted a few resources available on EfC digital relating to identification and self-identification. Carer Aware is a short e-learning resource aimed at helping line managers to identify carers in their teams and employees to recognise themselves as carers. There are also a number of toolkits which provide support ranging from launching an Employee Survey to implementing a Carer Passport and simply Starting the Conversation.
The session was wrapped up by Nick Baird, who thanked the speakers for sharing examples of excellence in this space. He encouraged all to continue sharing best practice and data, and in doing so continue to offer the very best support to working carers.