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Cumbrian businesses supporting unpaid Carers in the workplace

BUSINESSES and organisations in Cumbria are helping to support their employees who are also unpaid Carers for a family member or friend and finding they can retain valued staff.

Carers Champion Training in the workplace helps organisations, both private and public sector raise awareness of the important role unpaid carers undertake. The training, provided by local Carers Support organisations across Cumbria, provides volunteers with the skills to be a Carers Champion - who act as a voice for carers in their workplace or local community.

One-in-nine people in the workplace in Cumbria are also unpaid Carers, though their work colleagues maybe unaware and therefore unable to provide the support and understanding that can ease the daily stress and pressure. Without support 1-in-5 Carers give up work because the job of juggling their work and caring responsibilities simply becomes too much -and it is a lost to their employer.

West Cumbria Carers CEO, Sue Whitehead explained: “This training helps volunteers to raise awareness and promote understanding of the role of an unpaid Carer and provides the Carers’ Champion with a certificate when they complete the course. In West Cumbria we work with both private and public sector organisations.

"A Carers Champion is someone who is aware of the stresses and strains a Carer may be facing. They understand the importance of the role of a carer and can identify the signs of someone who perhaps, unknowingly, is caring. 

“The training with West Cumbria Carers provides information about the Charity and the services available to Carers.

“Attendees gain an understanding of what it means to be a Carer and some of the issues carers may face. They will also learn how to support people into taking the first step of contacting the Charity when they are ready to do so.”

While the training helps provide support for Carers, there are also benefits for companies as Franks Portlock, a leading environmental consultancy firm with offices in West Cumbria have discovered. Administrator at Franks Portlock in West Cumbria, Anita Jeremy undertook Carers Champion training with West Cumbria Carers.

Phil Franks, Technical Director at Franks Portlock, said of the scheme: “At Franks Portlock we pride ourselves on offering all staff a safe and supportive working environment, implementing the West Cumbria Carers Champion scheme is another means in which we can do this.

“Care givers are often under a great deal of mental, and at times, physical stress from the work they undertake. At Franks Portlock we believe that recognition is important and would like to commend the care giving community in general, as well as the West Cumbria Carers Champion scheme, for the fantastic work they do in providing relief and support to carers in the West Cumbria area.

“We would like to congratulate Anita on her role as Carers Champion and look forward to supporting her on the delivery of the scheme. We hope this makes a positive impact and provides support to the local community as well as any of our team members who may be a working carer."

The Carers Champion scheme by West Cumbria Carers is in aid of both young and adult carers and aims to provide support in the workplace. It is estimated that 62% of workers believe they don’t know ‘any work colleagues’ who help look after a loved one.

As Franks Portlock’s Carers Champion, Anita focuses on providing a reassuring presence in the workplace. After attending the West Cumbria Carers Champion training course, Anita acquired the necessary skills to recognise signs of mental health issues and raise awareness regarding the services available to those struggling as a working carer. Anita will also be on hand to help those who wish to contact the charity for further assistance, or simply listen to the stresses and strains a carer may be facing.

Anita said: “I am very proud to be a qualified West Cumbria Carers Champion, I think that people are open to discussing mental health now, more than ever before. I hope that in my new role I can help people and offer guidance, as well as raise awareness regarding working carers in the community.”

Sue added: “To create a supportive working environment, and change perceptions, West Cumbria Carers believes it is important to raise awareness regarding those who may be struggling with the commitment of caring.”

In West Cumbria, South Lakes, Eden and Furness, Carer Champion session are also aimed at statutory partners.

Craig Backhouse, Furness carers CEO explained: “Our focus is on providing courses for our statutory partners - public service organization. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve held three session at the new Blue Hub site in Ulverston, which covers the Fire, Police and Ambulance services.

“As well as the ‘blue light’ services, we have courses for school staff and GP practices.”

To find out more about becoming a Carers Champion, or to arrange a training session for your organisations, contact your local Carers Organisation.

You can contact them by emailing or calling their office:

Posted: 7th May 2021