“I’ve been enabled by work” − CNWL's Carers at Work Staff Network

08 May 2019

[Photo (L to R) Sarah and Sian]

“A lot of people don’t identify themselves as carers for a range of reasons,” says Sian Aylett, HR Business Partner with our Trust’s Milton Keynes Mental Health and Community Services.

“It could be that culturally it’s just something they get on with; it could be that people just see it as a part of their lives,” says Sian who is co-chair of the Trust’s network for staff who are carers.

In fact, Sian herself never identified as a carer. While this might seem harmless, it isn’t helpful either.

In the UK alone, there are 6.5 million carers. That’s one in eight people.

A carer is someone who cares, unpaid for a friend, or family who due to illness, disability, mental health problem or addiction cannot cope without their support – Carers Trust

Carers who work may find it particularly hard to balance work life with their caring responsibilities.

Not identifying as a carer might mean that they’re not accessing work support that they’re entitled to, and that might help them to cope better.

“I would have never identified as a carer. I share caring responsibilities. But it’s so important to recognise. What we can do to support people at work is so important.”

Sian says talking about it with one’s manager means that when situations arise, employers are better able to meet staff needs, whether it’s working flexibly or taking time to make an important phone call.

Sarah Hulme, the network’s co-chair, knows this all too well.

As the Trust’s Head of Children, Young People and Family Services for Inner London Children’s Services, she often very busy. But she is also a carer, and that means sometimes she needs more flexibility with her work times for appointments or medical emergencies.

“I know of many people who are in my situation who have given up their jobs. They felt that they’ve not been able to carry on working because of their caring responsibilities. And I feel very strongly that I’ve been enabled by work,” she said.

The Carers at Work Staff Network has produced a short film for National Staff Networks Day, where Sarah and Sian share their stories. Look at it below.

The network was created to support staff who are carers by providing advice, resources and training and promoting policies that support staff.

The network has also published a new booklet for staff carers. You can read and download it here.