24th November is Carers Rights Day, an annual awareness day hosted by Carers UK, to bring together organisations and help carers find out how to get help and support they are entitled to. Heart of the City’s Director, Sarah Mitchell shares some latest stats on carers and provides examples of ways businesses can consider supporting employees who have caring responsibilities.
One in eight of us is a carer for a family member or friend; two million people each year become an unpaid carer, and often this happens very quickly without any time to prepare. As a result unpaid carers can struggle to get the information and support they need.
Who are carers?
When I ran the central London carers centre, Carers Network, I met carers of all ages, from all backgrounds, and supporting family and friends in a wide range of different ways: from accompanying to appointments, to practical, physical support around the home, to coordinating paid carers. Carers make an enormous contribution to all our lives, and Carers UK estimates that carers save the public purse an enormous £132bn every single year.
Caring can be a full time job in itself, but three million people across the UK combine paid work with their unpaid caring role. Sadly many carers have to put their careers on hold and 21% report reducing their working hours to fit around caring at home.
Who cares for carers?
One in five of us will become a carer at some point in our life, and almost all of us know someone close to us who is or has been a carer. Too few carers though know where to get help and support when this happens. 20% of people say that if they became a carer they would approach their employer for help and so there is a real opportunity for companies to support carers in their workforce and in their local community.
Your company can make a difference to carers’ lives on Carers Rights Day by celebrating the contribution that carers make, and making sure that carers in your workplace get the support they need. Some simple actions could make your company more carer-friendly, for example:
Carers UK has set up a dedicated service called Employers for Carers through which supportive employers get the resources they need to support their carer employees.
You might also think about supporting a local carers charity- Heart of the City Contributor, Deloitte, has some really good, practical initiatives in place to support carers as we explain in our recent case study. Your company could sponsor the regular social events that carers value, or resources for their local carers centre- there is one in almost every London borough and Carers UK has a handy online directory.