This week is Carers Week, an annual event that aims to raise awareness of unpaid carers, the pressures and challenges they face and their need for greater support. And the theme this year is making carers visible and valued.
Being an unpaid family carer who looks after a family member unable to look after themselves can be both demanding and isolating. Two thirds of unpaid carers spend fifty hours a week or more on their caring role. Often working round-the-clock, unpaid carers have little time for themselves, and it’s easy for them to become isolated from their families and friends.
And for unpaid carers who have given up work to care, even thinking of going back to the workplace and having to learn new working practices can be unbelievably daunting.
But thanks to Working for Carers, a ground-breaking London-wide project, a local charity is having a big impact helping unpaid carers build their confidence and feel more valued as an essential first step along the path back into the workplace.
Harrow Carers is one of four caring charities supported by Carers Trust through the Working for Carers project. Working for Carers supports unpaid carers like Malcolm as they think about doing something for themselves for the first time in a long time after years spent caring for someone else. Support can be as simple as talking through the options, help in writing a CV or talking to other unpaid carers to realise you are not alone and it is possible to re-connect with the working world.
Malcolm Moore, aged 57 lives in London with his partner and worked for many years in the creative industries successfully until his partner’s mother died suddenly. Over the next 3 years Malcom’s partner was unable to come to terms with his mother’s death and started to struggle more and more, until he had a life changing major mental heath episode in 2012.
For years Malcolm didn’t even see himself a carer. In 2018, he joined the Working for Carers project at Harrow Carers. They helped him figure out what direction he wanted his career to take and to rediscover his enthusiasm, confidence and passion for the creative industry.
Malcolm now understands the importance of looking after himself and how that can make him a better carer. Through attending a business workshop organised by Working for Carers Malcolm decided to refocus his career path and reboot his own business. He’s also become a mentor for others in the creative industries and is a founder of the new Film & TV Carers Club, set up by carers for carers working in film and TV.
Malcolm said: “I never expected to become a carer, but there’s lots of other people out there like me. In my industry if you’re not available 24/7 your commitment is questioned, there’s a stigma to being a carer but we have all the attributes needed to succeed like empathy, time management, resourcefulness and problem solving skills, which are needed by employers.
“Working for Carers reminded me how much I already knew. My confidence had gone but this gave me the boost I needed. I’m starting to dream again. I thought my drive had been extinguished, but the embers were still there. They just needed to be reignited and that’s what Working for Carers have helped me to do.”
Colin Powell, Operations Director at Harrow Carers said:
“Throughout the pandemic our team of skilled, experienced Employment Personal Advisors Working for Carers has continued to provide invaluable support for those unpaid carers wishing to move into employment. We are now excited about the next phases of re-opening, so we can once again meet face to face with unpaid carers to further assist with building the confidence and skill sets necessary to gain long lasting, fulfilling employment.”
Working for Carers is for carers and former carers in London, over the aged of 25, who are not in any form of employment. This free, tailored support includes one-to-one meetings with an Employment Personal Advisor, support with CV-writing and job-searching, and access to workshops.
The project is led by Carers Trust, a national charity that supports unpaid carers. It’s funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund, and delivered by four Network Partners across London.
If you are an unpaid carer in London and want to find out more about Working for Carers visit: https://carers.org/the-working-for-carers-project/working-for-carers