It’s a stark reality to hear that 2.6 million people have given up work to care for someone. I am humbled by the number of colleagues at British Gas who have told me their stories of balancing the needs of those they care for while working fulltime.
And hearing about the small things that make a big difference to them makes me even more determined to make sure we are making theirs and our customers lives easier. I will continue to champion this in my role as executive sponsor of our Carers Network.
Supporting our customers
According to research by Carers UK one of the main issues that carers experience when acting on behalf of the person they care for, is dealing with customer services teams.
British Gas serves around 10 million customers across the country and, with at least 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK, we know that many of our customers will also be caring for a loved one and will often need to take on the responsibilities of managing their household bills and services.
We know that it can be emotionally draining to have to repeat information each time you contact a company so, to help our customers, we have introduced a Carers flag on our accounts which means they can be identified and given additional support, if they need it, from our partner agencies. Our frontline staff have also been trained to understand how to use these tools, what caring can involve and why our customers might need additional support.
We have worked with Carers UK to produce a blueprint for how companies can support its customers with caring responsibilities and we would encourage all businesses to think about the changes they can make that will make a difference.
Supporting our colleagues
We know that offering flexible working, paid care leave and peer support through our Carers Network has made such a difference to our colleagues who care for their loved ones and we must continue to make it as easy as possible for them to access this support. We know caring is a big part of their lives, so, it’s important to us to do what we can to help.
Research shows these measures drive a culture of care and collaboration in workplaces and normalise the issue of balancing work and care. You never know when you or someone you work with will become a carer, so it’s vital that businesses have these support mechanisms in place.
As a company we champion this through our partnership with Carers UK. Over the past 16 years we’ve worked together to develop world-class policies that support employees with caring responsibilities. Together we’ve campaigned for the UK Government to introduce statutory carers leave which now forms part of the legislative programme. We also donated £1 million to help Carers UK provide vital services to carers during COVID-19.
This Carers week theme is Make Caring Visible and Valued and it provides a great opportunity for us to come together virtually and discuss the practical support which would make the lives of working carers easier.
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