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Picture this: My spouse has been on the kidney transplant list for years. Whilst she has been managing around the home and the children, I’ve noticed a drop in her energy levels lately. Her blood pressure has spiked causing unbearable headaches and fatigue. Her specialist has recommended that her dialysis increases from once a week to 3 times a week at a hospital 30 miles away. Every dialysis session takes 4-5 hours after which she is exhausted. She can no longer do the school drops, cook meals or even get out of bed on most days. I am torn. How am I going to manage her health, the children or my job?

Or…

Picture this: My mother is getting old. Alzheimer’s has hit her hard. She looks at me like she doesn’t know me. The other night she wet the bed. Four nights ago, she was so angry she threw her dinner on the floor. I’ve thought about an old people’s home, but I can’t abandon her. She has been a fantastic mother. It’s my turn now to look after her. She can’t be left alone at home, so I’ve given up my job to look after her. But I need the money. How can I find work that will work around my care duties?

The husband and the daughter are both carers. If this is you or you know someone in a similar situation, please visit our website or give us a call to find out how we can support you in finding flexible employment whilst caring for a loved one.

We often associate the word “carer,” with professionals such as nurses, care home staff, paramedics or childcare nursery nurses or teachers. The truth is that we could all be carers. It could be you, me, your neighbour, your best friend’s sister, the smart looking man you see shopping at Tesco every day or even the little 9-year-old girl who waves at you as she walks to the bus stop every morning.

A carer is anyone, including children and adults who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support (NHS England). Carers are unpaid and in many cases, have had to give up work or education to care for their parent, child friend, sibling or partner, full-time.

According to statistics published by The Carers Trust, the 2011 UK census shows that one in ten residents in England and Wales – 5.8 million people – are spending at least part of their week caring for disabled, sick or elderly relatives or friends. This equates to around 10% of the population and is an 11% rise from the 5.2 million carers recorded in 2001. In fact, nearly 300,000 more people in England and Wales are spending 50 or more hours a week caring – now 1.4 million. This is a full-time workforce greater than that of the National Health Service. (Carers UK (2014), Facts about Carers – Policy Briefing, May 2014 (Carers UK).

Most carers don’t consider themselves to be carers and according to NHS England, it takes almost two years for people to acknowledge themselves as carers. Most of us extend ourselves to help our loved ones in any way we can. If a family member or friend is unwell, has a disability or a mental health problem, we believe it’s our duty to look after them. “It’s what anyone would do,” we are likely to say. When this ‘looking after’ is round the clock, so much so that without your support, your loved one would be unable to cope, you are effectively their carer.

A carers role is diverse and challenging, juggling several responsibilities and commitments in addition to being a carer, such as jobs, education, children, health, leaving them feeling guilty, overwhelmed and unsupported. In their capacity as carers, they may help with everyday tasks such as getting out of bed and personal care such as bathing, to preparing and meals and feeding as well as emotional support such as helping someone cope with the symptoms of a mental illness. Whilst most people care for their loved ones voluntarily and willingly, many have no choice. With long hours spent caring for their loved one, it is not uncommon for carers to experience fatigue, social isolation, depression and a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.

At Working for Carers, we have met some remarkable people who have put the needs of their loved ones above their own, sacrificing their careers, education and employment prospects. They often find themselves lacking the skills, confidence and knowledge to re-enter the workforce when they are ready. Often, carers find themselves in a situation where they are able to work part-time, but feel they don’t know how to go about getting such a role. That’s where we step in.

We believe that our role is to improve the lives and well-being of carers by helping them lead more fulfilling lives because on average, carers retire eight years early; one in five carers gives up employment to care and those caring for 20 hours or more a week who are in employment are also more likely to be in lower paid work than those caring for less than 20 hours and the general population (16% compared with 12%). 26% of carers feel that their caring responsibilities have affected their ability to take up or stay in employment (Carers Trust). It’s our job to look after them.

Our employment advisors work closely with eligible carers to build their employment skills and self-confidence, through workshops on CV writing and interview techniques, computer skills, mindfulness and stress management.

Visit our Workshops page or give us a call on 0208 868 5224 to find out how we can support your job search.