Employers for Carers (EfC) was delighted to host an in-person networking event on Tuesday 14 March. The event was held at EfC member BT’s London office and the theme was Supporting carer health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Carers UK’s Chair Nick Baird opened the well-attended event with a short speech and thanked those for travelling to London for the event. Nick reported the most recent EfC member additions and Carer Confident accredited employers and mentioned the importance of the health and wellbeing theme in the current climate, drawing on his own caring experiences.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, then provided a round-up of news from Carers UK. She highlighted that the Carer’s Leave Bill is currently progressing through the House of Lords, having passed its Second Reading on Friday 3 March and she thanked EfC organisations for their continued support throughout this process. Helen also drew attention to Carers Week 2023 which will be held from 5 – 11 June with the theme being ‘Recognising and supporting carers in the community’, which includes the workplace community.
Dr Richard Caddis, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Occupational Health and Wellbeing from BT Group, was the first EfC member to speak and gave an overview of BT’s holistic approach to supporting carer health and wellbeing. This includes looking at the factors affecting the wider community and using an evidence based approach to put in place the best support for carers. He mentioned the company’s current policies and practices, such as different types of leave, the BT Passport and wellbeing support and that they also see carers as ‘superstars’ who should be celebrated.
Jenni Hammond, Corporate Responsibility Adviser and Chair of the Carers Network at AXA, started her presentation by explaining the background of supporting carers at AXA and mentioned that this was still a relatively new venture. They conduct surveys and ensure that everything is led by carers and stressed the importance of carers being as honest as they can so that they can receive the best support. Jenni also highlighted that they encourage people who don’t necessarily know they are carers by using routes such as peer to peer advocacy.
Our final EfC member speaker was Rosie Whitfield, Co-Chair of the We Care Network at Virgin Media O2. At the beginning of their journey they focused on where the network fits in the organisation and what their aims were to grow. She admitted that getting people to buy into the network has been challenging, a likely common issue for other organisations, but that they are working hard to encourage sign ups. Finally, she mentioned that it is very important to create an empathetic and compassionate workplace and to keep in mind that there is no one size fits all when it comes to supporting carers.
The speakers were then welcomed back in front of the audience for a panel discussion and to answer questions from the audience. Some topics of conversation included how to sell the importance of health and wellbeing support for carers to senior leadership and how to get shift workers and those not based in an office/at home feeling included and involved in support.
Finally, we were thrilled to welcome Bas Burger, CEO of BT Business to speak after the discussions and concluding comments from Nick. Bas is taking on the new role of Executive Sponsor of the Carer’s Network and spoke about why he decided to take on this role and his hopes for the next steps on the journey of supporting carers at BT.
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.