Text size

Finding support as a working carer: Claire’s story

It is thought that around 3 million people, out of a working-age population of 4.3 million, juggle work while caring for a family member unpaid.

Without the right support, combining work and care can be incredibly stressful. Faced with this pressure, some carers choose to give up work to provide care unpaid – a decision which can bring its own challenges, including the loss of a reliable income.

Swindon Carers Centre is here to support unpaid carers who are in employment. Carers like Claire, who works full-time at New College and is a parent carer for her son, who has just started secondary school. This is Claire’s story:

My husband and I have two children together; my husband has two older children, so we are a family of six. My son, who is 11, has ADHD and Autistic traits. On top of this, my daughter is a young carer as I have fibromyalgia. She does a lot for us.

Unfortunately, my son did not enjoy the last couple of years at primary school, but since he has moved to The Ridgeway School he has really started to thrive. He loves maths, and he aspires to be in the navy as a helicopter engineer. He has got to know how to regulate his feelings, which is something he was not able to at primary school.

Two years ago, I started work on a full-time, term-time contract at New College, Swindon. It’s a really busy role but I love it. I have taken the time to get to know people I work with, in my team and outside of my team. They always ask how you are and how your family is.

Having a supportive employer makes a huge difference. I was at my previous workplace for 10 years, working in various different roles. When my son was going through a tricky time at school, my manager wasn’t very accommodating. I always dreaded it when my phone rang.

All it takes is a little bit of understanding to know what staff are going through. Sometimes I worry to tell people I’m a carer, especially because I’m a parent carer and they don’t always know what that means. I know they shouldn’t discriminate but discussing this with employers can be challenging.

My son started at the Ridgeway School in September 2020. Staff there were great because they knew we would miss out on transition events, so they were in contact with me to help him settle quickly in September. He also attended a summer school, which meant he had an insight into what to expect. This was fabulous support for him.

If you’re a working carer, it is important to be honest with your employer. Sometimes it is difficult to let go of the reigns, but don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Swindon Carers Centre is encouraging local businesses to sign up to our Employers Care Award. By doing this, organisations commit to making lasting changes in the workplace for unpaid carers. Our Partnerships Manager Judy Evans will support in completing each of the standards required to achieve this award.

If you’re a working carer and you would either like some personal support, or to get your workplace interested in completing the Employers Care Award, please speak to our Partnerships Manager Judy Evans by emailing judy.evans@swindoncarers.org.uk.