Members Networking Event | October 2019 | DWF LLP, London

EfC Networking event pic collage 2

Our well attended EfC Member Networking Event on the 16th October, hosted by DWF LLP, focussed on sharing latest learning from dedicated carers groups and wider staff networks and how ‘Interaction gets Traction’.

The event was opened by Sarah Charlesworth, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at DWF LLP. Sarah reminded us all of the importance of workplace networks and information sessions and said that she is passionate to learn refreshing ways to do more for her working carers network at DWF.

Ian Peters, Chair of EfC, welcomed all and was delighted to report that since our last event in June, many of our members have run multiple awareness-raising events and information sessions. EfC have now successfully grown to over 150 members, reaching the 2 million employee mark. We have also seen all 10 local councils joining across the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and are increasing our reach in the North. He also welcomed the fact that, as EfC members, we readily share our best practice with each other. There is no one single model to get a network right but a plethora of different ways which are all right in their own way.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, was excited to see such a variety of sectors being represented at this event. She highlighted a number of achievements since the last EfC event, including The Digital Cinema and Campaign Big award won by Centrica’s ‘Share that You Care’ campaign as part of the company’s three-year strategic partnership with Carers UK. “This has amassed 1.3 million admissions, which is a huge unprecedented reach for us.” You can watch the video here.

She also highlighted Carers UK’s recent State of Caring 2019 report, research on ‘Carers at breaking point’ and our joint publication with Great Place to Work on the case for supporting carers. Helen then reminded all that as Carers Rights Day will soon be upon us with this year’s theme being ‘Helping you find your Way’ this was a great opportunity for EfC members to promote their membership resources, and continue the caring conversation amongst colleagues. Helen’s top tip was to host a ‘Care for a Cuppa’ event – an event to raise awareness and share experiences of caring in a relaxed atmosphere. To find out more information on how to host a Care for a Cuppa event, or any other fundraising advice click here.

Three member organisations shared their experiences of networks, their different stages of development, and the different ways of running a network. First up was Parbinder Bhullar, Senior Programme Manager and Carers Stream Lead at UBS. She outlined the benefits of having suppliers such as Carers UK, who are able to update members on key topics and changes to government legislation; and the importance of networks having a partnership with the HR department, as they can help find solutions. Parbinder also spoke of the importance of gaining data from your employees to help target support more effectively to carers.
Anne Power, Staff Networks Coordinator for Central and North London NHS Foundation, explained how they are continuously looking for inventive ways of getting the message out. To celebrate Carers Rights Day this year, their programme will concentrate on the ‘top five rights’ that have made a change for carers. Anne also explained that the Carers network also work closely with NHS Mental Health, as a lot of their service users have their own carers. As a network, the Co-Chairs create and update a booklet which explains personal stories, the role of a carer, how to make it work, and how to speak to your manager and more. They also tap into a National Staff Networks day involving all their networks and have panel conversations to help tease out what the issues are.

Julie Bigwood, Head of Resourcing & Operations and Alex Madewell, Senior Research Assistant at the Bank of England highlighted that they hold regular informative events, including an event with the Mental Health network. Their network also concentrates on the role of a manager and gives advice on existing policies, and ways to stop avoiding those difficult caring questions. Alex reiterated the importance of collecting data while recognising that it may not be easy for small organisations to do this. One of the things they hope to do in the future is to build on their work with the BAME network to understand the dynamics of staff at the bank. This could help them forecast their future and see what the bank might look like demographically in 10-20 years’ time, finding the growing issues with carers. “Data is one of our most precious resources that we have.”

The Q&A sessions followed with members discussing the importance of network intersectionality, carers passports, and initiatives for this year’s Carers Rights Day. Dr Mandy Cook, Innovation Fellow, and Camille Allard, PhD Student from the University of Sheffield, gave us an update about the Sustainable Care Programme. Please contact us at client.services@carersuk.org if you are interested in hearing more or would like to take part in the research.

Our next members networking event will be in March 2020. If you would like to present at the next event and share your organisation’s progress, experiences or policies please contact us at client.services@carersuk.org.