The Summer EfC networking event shared its theme with this year’s Carers Week, ‘Making Caring Visible and Valued’, and gave members the opportunity to discuss issues and activities related to the annual campaign. The event was held virtually on 23 June 2021 and saw a wonderfully high turn-out across members from all sectors.
The event was once again opened and chaired by Nick Baird, Chair of Carers UK. He noted that a key challenge for us all as employers is ensuring that we communicate clearly and regularly about caring - and help available in the workplace - to encourage carers to make themselves visible and managers to value and support them. This has been the most successful Carers Week ever in terms of the number of events held by EfC, and by EfC members, and the numbers of people engaged in those events.
Four member organisations provided updates on what they have been doing to make caring visible and valued across Carers Week and beyond. Lee Innes, who co-chairs the Carers Community at Aviva, spoke about the importance of introducing and cultivating a celebratory element across the community as well as considering ways to support customers as well as internal staff. Tracy Orlandi, Staff and Wellbeing Lead at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, shared a wellness roadmap which weaves carers into every event, recognising that someone who wasn’t a carer last week may well be one today.
Ling Kong and Tanisha Valton, who work in the HR department at Publicis Sapient, helpfully shared their personal experiences of caring with the group. Some very positive events were hosted internally across Carers Week, including a session during which employees were able to talk freely and openly about the issue of caring, and the EfC team were thanked for presenting at a lunch and learn. Our last member speaker was Hannah Usher, Carers Lead at PwC, who noted that the network had grown massively in the last 18 months. She stressed the importance of responding to what staff want and need, and highlighted a general cultural shift to flexible working, in terms of both where and when.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, provided an organisational update. Last month Carers UK was delighted to launch our Carer Friendly Company report which was supported by British Gas. This included a Carer Friendly Company blueprint to help public and private companies support millions of their customers who have caring responsibilities for someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill. Carers Week also saw the launch of our research, Breaks not breakdown, showing that 72% of carers have not had any breaks from their caring role during the pandemic. Strikingly, it also revealed that 55% of working carers felt overwhelmed by their caring responsibilities.
A Q&A session with all participants followed, with some interesting points raised and top tips shared. Members discussed the need to dispel the myth that you have to be related to someone to be their carer. The importance of celebrating different types of caring and carers was emphasised across the board.
The session was wrapped up by Nick Baird, who thanked our fantastic speakers for being so open, generous and informative. He also highlighted that Carers UK will be conducting a research survey of EfC members shortly to help understand the impact of the pandemic on working carers and how members have been supporting them - further news to follow shortly!