On this, the first day of Carers Week, our founder and Managing Director Carole Burman shares both a personal and professional perspective on the important issue of unpaid carers and the need to acknowledge their valuable contribution.

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There are many roles I feel fortunate to have had, or currently have, in my life.

I’m a wife, a daughter, a business founder, an employer, a mentor, a loyal football fan…and I’m a hugely proud and passionate trustee of Suffolk Family Carers.

Through that role, I hear so many touching and inspiring stories about the selfless and often unseen caring role which many people carry out for their loved ones.

What never ceases to amaze me, is how long it takes many people to reach the realisation that they indeed have the ‘role’ in life of being a carer, and that they deserve support and recognition.

For many, they have stumbled into caring for a family member, and they seek no praise or assistance – even though it might be a role which is taking up many, many hours in an average week.

That’s to say nothing of the emotional strain it can cause the carer, or the aspects of the life they are potentially ‘putting on hold’ to provide the best level of dutiful care they can.

This week, Carers UK – in conjunction with several other charities – is marking Carers Week by announcing the details of a survey looking into the impact of unpaid care, and what is required from a new government.

Its report ‘No Choice But to Care’ found 62% of those currently providing unpaid care had ‘no choice’ to do so because there simply was no alternative. That’s a total of around 10 million people.

It also finds that caring has had a negative impact on their mental health, ability to work, and savings.

In respect of at least one of those issues, I therefore want to use this week to urge employers to consider the role they play in supporting team members who are also performing the role of carer in their ‘spare’ time.

As a basic minimum, please consider the following:

  • Make sure you’re up to speed on the latest legislation around leave for carers. The Carers Leave Act came into effect on 6 April this year.
  • Have a clear policy in your documentation for your business which references how you support those with caring duties.
  • Consider running lunch-and-learn style sessions where employees might hear from a charity or organisation about unpaid care, what this looks like and where they can get help
  • Make sure your employees know that they can discuss issues around their need to provide care for family members, and that they don’t feel vulnerable in disclosing such information

Please take the time to read the Carers Week report this week. You can do so here:

https://www.carersweek.org/about-carers-week/latest-news/posts-folder/2024-1/june/no-choice-but-to-care-report-launches/

If a charity like Suffolk Family Carers is of interest to you, please find out more and take a look at their events during Carers Week here.

And if you’d like to explore how you can develop a policy to support those in your firm with caring responsibilities, please get in touch.