Did you know across the UK today 6.5 million people are carers, supporting a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill and I am one of them.
To the left is a picture of my family, my dad Martin, younger brother Christopher, our beloved dog Rocky and my mum Linda. As you may have noticed, my mum is a wheelchair user as she has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) along with Parkinson's to name a few. Whilst my mum hasn't always been a wheelchair user all my life from about age 9 I have been caring for my mum and wider family whilst my dad worked long hours to ensure our finances were stable. This included and still does everything from making meals to washing and changing and whilst this was always my normal, growing up and entering the workplace I found out how little was known about carers and the "work" we do after a day in the office. This was most likely coupled with many carers including myself shying away from talking about our home lives for fear of judgement and sympathy - when all we want to do is work hard and continue to support our colleagues but also our loved ones.
This all changed when my mum suffered a stroke and was admitted to hospital and for the first time I was forced to tell my story, as I could no longer juggle home and work life under one guise and started to relapse on my own mental health.
Fast forward 6 years following support from my organisation, I decided to work with other organisations telling them my story, the state of caring in the UK and what practical steps they can implement right away (at no cost) to ensure they are supporting carers in the workplace. Within my own company I continually advocate for improving the lives of carers by heading up our carers network and being diversity, inclusion and wellbeing lead working with other underrepresented groups to ensure our voices are heard.
My current role has also meant branching out to deliver talks on mental health, diversity and inclusion and wellbeing.
I have been honoured that my work has been recognised by the National Housing Federation and I was able to create the "creating a carers network" case study impacting housing associations across the UK on how to better support carers in the workplace and last year being honoured by Investors in People and being a finalist for Young Person of the Year 2022 and 2023.
So if you are looking to see how you can better support colleagues in your workplace or want to hear from someone with lived experience of being a carer and overcoming mental health barriers - get in touch as I would love to see how I could support you.