Mary Edwards is Operations Manager of the innovative business membership forum, Employers for Carers (part of Carers UK), which provides practical help for employers and promotes the business benefits of supporting carers. Her interest and knowledge of carers issues in the workplace evolved from her work on European Social Fund and London-borough funded employment projects where she was responsible for both helping carers return to work as well as helping employers to identify and support carers in their workplace. Mary joined Carers UK in 2013 and prior to that worked for a number of years as an HR Manager in the private sector, ran a City-based recruitment consultancy for ten years; and qualified as a career coach.
“…Isolation and loneliness is something that many people face as a result of their caring responsibilities. They may feel unable to talk to colleagues about their caring responsibilities as it may seem like no-one understands their situation…”
Working carers in the UK – over half are women
Currently three million people in the UK juggle paid work with unpaid caring for older, sick or disabled loved ones and over half of these are women. This figure is set to increase as a result of the impact of an ageing population and improved healthcare as people live longer with health conditions.
Caring: A hidden issue affecting one in nine people in any workplace
However, while one in nine people in any workplace will be supporting an older, ill or disabled relative partner or close friend, caring still remains a relatively hidden issue at work. Many employees either do not recognise themselves as a carer, do not know where to turn for help, or feel uncomfortable about coming forward for support.
Isolation and loneliness is something that many people face as a result of their caring responsibilities. They may feel unable to talk to colleagues about their caring responsibilities as it may seem like no-one understands their situation. It can feel lonely, even in a busy work environment, if carers feel they can’t talk openly about their caring role.
Support and best practice for employers
Employers for Carers, Carers UK’s business forum, launched as a national membership forum in 2009 to ensure that employers have the support and up to date best practice they need to attract and retain employees with caring responsibilities.
Employers for Carers and Carers UK are currently conducting a short employee survey about caring and isolation in the workplace.
The purpose of this short employee survey is to improve our understanding of:
- How and why carers can often feel lonely or isolated (either at work or at home) even when they may be part of a busy workplace or wider family unit
- How working carers can best be supported to minimise such isolation including through early advice and information and practical help
- Practical ways in which employers and other parties can help
The new research survey is now open and we are calling for employers to encourage carers in their workforce to complete the short online anonymous survey. The survey will be open from now until the 28th February 2015 and the results will be published in late March 2015.
The survey is available on the Employers for Carers website by following this link.