Almost 10% of the workforce in Leeds is juggling paid work with care for a loved one with ill-health or a disability, and this number is increasing as people across the country are facing extra caring responsibilities due to the coronavirus outbreak.

This Carers Week (08 – 14 June 2020), Carers Leeds aim to Make Caring Visible by working with employers across the city to highlight the key role played by unpaid carers to support Leeds health and social care and demonstrate how supporting carers in the workplace can benefit the whole workforce in the ‘new normal’ way of working.

At a free online workshop today, attendees from businesses across the city will join a virtual round table discussion with representatives from the Leeds employers forum to share lessons learned from the Covid-19 crisis and discuss new ways of working that will support working carers and the wider workforce.

Chris Walker, Team Manager from British Gas said “Since lockdown, the flexibility of our carers policy alongside the advice and guidance we receive from Carers Leeds has positively impacted the wider team. Our people have been able to work effectively and look after their family in these difficult times. The Leeds Employers Forum started as a collaboration to support working carers but since lockdown the need for flexibility and support is key for all of our staff. We see the benefits of our approach really working and we want to share this with other employers. We are better together.”

The forum, established by Carers Leeds, is made up of businesses from across the city including British Gas, Leeds City Council, Leeds University and Leeds Building Society and meet to exchange best practise in supporting working carers.

This year’s Carers Week takes on a particular significance, given the devastating impact of Covid-19 and it’s knock on effects on both care and employment. It is important we take time to recognise and celebrate the role of carers. Their value to society is immense and we need to ensure that they get the support they need.

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood said “The recent Carers UK Report shows that there are potentially long standing issues for those balancing their job and caring for a vulnerable person. Their research suggests there are an additional 2.8 million workers combining work and unpaid care since the outbreak began. This could mean that one in four workers now combine work and unpaid care. Unfortunately this means some carers have had to reduce their hours or stop working to provide this care. We need to make sure that employers, many of whom have themselves been significantly affected, have carer-friendly policies in place to give people the best chance of maintaining both their job and their care commitments.”

Val Hewison, Chief Executive of Carers Leeds said “Evidence shows that unless working carers are supported in the workplace, they may be forced to leave. Becoming a working carer is not something you can plan for; it can happen overnight. This event will connect our combined experience of supporting working carers to develop new practises supporting all employees in the return to work post Covid-19.”

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.

Carers Leeds is here to provide vital information, advice and support to carers throughout Leeds. Our expert team of Carer Support Workers are available through the advice line which is open Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm. Call 0113 380 4300 or e-mail advice@carersleeds.org.uk.


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