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New project to highlight challenges facing unpaid carers in the workplace

by Kirsty Kirsty

Carers Trust and Simplyhealth have launched a new project to highlight the challenges unpaid carers face applying for jobs and in the workplace. The project, which launched on Monday 15 April, is part of an already established partnership between national charity Carers Trust, healthcare company Simplyhealth and responsible business network Business in the Community, aiming to support the wellbeing of unpaid carers in England and Wales   There are an estimated seven million people in the UK who care for a family member or friend with an illness, disability, mental health condition or addiction. The new project will focus on those unpaid carers who have a health condition and their experiences of paid work. A systematic review by the Department of Work and Pensions shows carers with health problems are more likely to exit employment. Those who provide intense levels of care are between two and three times more likely to also suffer from ill health. However, there is less understanding about the landscape of carer-friendly workplaces in the UK. The Carers Trust and Simplyhealth research will examine carers’ experience of balancing their health needs with employment, alongside what dedicated support exists nationally in the workplace to support their health and wellbeing. The research is being reviewed and shaped by unpaid carers. It launches with a survey for unpaid carers who have a health condition, looking at their experiences of applying to, and being in, paid work. A further survey with employers will be carried out at a later date, alongside interviews with both unpaid carers and employers to get an in-depth understanding of the issue. The research findings will be published later this year. They will lead to a set of recommendations for employers that will help them better understand what support is needed, while also helping unpaid carers balance caring with work. Business in the Community and Simplyhealth are already working in partnership to run the Let’s Care Together programme. This scheme encourages businesses to support carers with their wellbeing by offering mentoring and support sessions provided by trained volunteers. This directly impacts the lives of the carers while also improving the wellbeing of those they care for. The programme aims to reach over 500 carers across England and Wales over the next three years and is also supported by Carers Trust.  Rohati Chapman, Carers Trust’s Executive Director for Programmes, Policy & Impact, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Simplyhealth and Business in the Community on this important project. Carers tell us all the time about the challenges they face trying to balance caring at home with their paid employment. When unaddressed, that struggle can be costly to both employers and carers, but workplaces can play a vital role in easing the burden. “This much-needed research will show us for the first time how much support is out there from employers, what the major challenges are and what can be done to improve help for unpaid carers joining, rejoining or balancing their caring with work.” Claudia Nicholls, Simplyhealth’s Chief Customer Officer, said: We champion for social equality in access to health care, so we’re pleased to support the Carers Trust, along with our charity partner Business in the Community, to undertake an in-depth understanding of the landscape of carer-friendly workplaces across the UK. We’ll use this insight to inform a set of workplace recommendations for employers. “This furthers our £200,000 of corporate giving for the Let’s Care Together programme which encourages businesses to support carers with their wellbeing by aiming to match volunteers with 500 carers for online mentoring and support sessions.” The survey is available to fill in at https://forms.office.com/e/APKh9bjSRP

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