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Employers for Carers (EfC) was delighted to host their first in-person Networking Event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic on 11 October. The event was held at EfC member Aviva’s London offices and the theme was Championing carers in the workplace.

Carers UK’s Chair Nick Baird opened the event by welcoming the array of EfC members to the event and the delight at meeting face to face. Nick reported the most recent EfC member additions and Carer Confident accredited employers and mentioned the impending EfC survey report which will be released shortly focusing on carer champions and their role in the workplace.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, then provided an update on what has been happening at Carers UK. Helen welcomed the news that unpaid carers are now included in the Autumn booster programme for COVID-19 and the flu jab. She also highlighted the new date of the Second Reading for the Carer’s Leave Bill, Friday 21 October, and that EfC members will be kept up to date on its progress.  On other news, Carers UK was thrilled last month to receive two awards at the Corporate Engagement Awards 2022 for the Best Charity Programme and Best Collaborative Approach for its partnership with  Centrica.  Next month, Carers Rights Day will take place on Thursday 24 November and the campaign will focus on raising awareness of carers’ rights. Helen stressed that this year more than ever, employers have a key role in highlighting these rights, and concluded by thanking our EfC members for championing carers in the workplace.

Jonny Briggs from Aviva was welcomed as the first EfC member speaker. He gave a brief overview about his role at Aviva and the communities that they have built and how they intersect. Aviva’s Carers Community was the fastest growing of their newest communities and he named a few key employees who champion the support and share their personal experience. He also stressed the importance of a continuous flow of stories being shared and encouraging others to speak freely.

Angela Gibson was the next speaker and gave an overview about what carer champions do at TSB Bank. She summarised what is available for carers at TSB, including the carers network which takes a look at the company’s policy framework, colleague experience, their carers policy and a carers passport which is hugely popular. Angela then focussed on their carer champion framework and highlighted the importance of senior sponsors who champion the campaign and force doors to open.

The final speaker was Folashade Oginni from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) who began by describing how she came into her current role. She mentioned how the statistics and resources from Carers UK drive their policies and that she always looks at how visible the support is on UKHSA’s intranet. Folashade went on to say that the asset of UKHSA is the wellbeing of their colleagues which is why they work closely with the network to drive their policies and share the transferable skills that carers offer.

The speakers were then welcomed onto the stage for a panel discussion and to answer questions from the audience. Topics of conversation included the lightbulb moment when organisations realised that they needed to provide support for carers, how organisations went about collecting data and the difficulty with encouraging carers to identify themselves, the sustainability of networks in the current economic climate, Carer’s Leave and how to ensure managers across the board are aware of carers in the organisation.

Once the speakers’ session concluded, EfC members enjoyed some time networking and connecting with one another. EfC would like to thank all members who attended the event and we look forward to in-person networking events in the future.

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