Eleanor Jones

By Eleanor Jones

Business Change Manager

“I’ll always remember the support Centrica gave me when I became a carer.”

Being a carer isn’t easy – and with 600 people in the UK leaving work everyday to look after their loved ones, workplaces need to do more to support these unsung heroes.

For almost 20 years, we’re proud to say that our Carers Network has been doing just that.

So for National Inclusion Week 2023, with the theme “Take Action, Make Impact”, we spoke to network Co-chairs Vicky and Eleanor to reflect on how we’ve been giving our carers the right support, while inspiring other businesses to do the same.

“Centrica allowed me to be a carer.”

What does a carer look like?

From hearing the very different stories of colleagues like Vicky and Eleanor, it’s fair to say that there is no such thing as a typical carer.

Vicky's Story

Vicky cared for her parents over a six year period – but this intensified when her dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and suddenly required 24 hour care.

As part of our carers’ leave policy here at Centrica, Vicky was given the flexibility she needed to properly look after her loved one whenever she had to, while still having the space and energy to grow in her role.

When her dad sadly passed away, Vicky became Co-chair of the network to give something back, and support others in her position.

Vickys Story

Eleanor's Story

“I never thought that at 23 caring would be a part of my life”, Eleanor explains, “as it’s really not something you expect at that age”.

Eleanor cared for both her gran and her dad when he was diagnosed with late stage cancer. From carrying out treatments for her dad, to going to and from appointments with her gran, Eleanor urgently needed the flexibility and support at work to carry out her duties.

“Centrica never challenged whether caring was the right thing for me to do – the support I received during that time was something I’ll always remember”.


Aa With Carers

Taking action within Centrica

According to Carers UK, 65% of carers feel lonelier than they did before the pandemic (with this number reaching 70% for carers who are also parents).

With this in mind, one of the most important things a business can do is provide a sense of community for colleagues that need it. And that’s exactly what the Carers Network aims to do.

Whether that’s regular Teams chats on relevant topics to internal talks that give colleagues a platform to share their story, the network is constantly reminding carers that they never have to feel alone at work. “Knowing this community is behind you at work makes caring feel normal”, Vicky explains. 

But, as Eleanor puts it, “Empowering and educating our leaders is so important for carers”,  as it makes difficult conversations about topics like flexibility that much easier. That’s why the network recently launched a comprehensive e-learning module, designed to educate colleagues on how to best support carers in their team.

Besides empathy and education, both Vicky and Eleanor agree that it’s the practical support that allows carers to juggle work and home life. From the FlexFirst app that lets colleagues shift their core hours, to offering up to four weeks of paid leave to carers, meaningful policies like these are at the heart of a truly inclusive place to work.

Inclusion Event

Making an impact beyond Centrica

Action taken by Centrica doesn’t just help our colleagues. It also has a wider impact on the UK’s carer community.

One key example of this is our partnership with the amazing Carers UK, working together to raise £2m for carers across the country and helping UK businesses build carer-friendly workplaces.

More recently, the Carers Network was proud to play a part in making history – backing Wendy Chamberlain MP and the Carer’s Leave Act at Westminster.

Centrica network Co-chair Patrick McCarthy was honoured to speak at several events in support of the bill, where he shared his own stories, advocated the bill, and explained the support available at Centrica.

The statutory entitlement to unpaid carers leave will improve the lives of many and our role in making that happen is a key example of how we’re leading the way, showing businesses how they can best support their carers.

As Patrick says, “the statutory entitlement to unpaid carers leave will improve the lives of many” – and our role in making that happen is a key example of how we’re leading the way, showing businesses how they can best support their carers.

Looking forward

2024 is set to be a landmark year for the Carers Network.

“We want to build a network of businesses”, Victoria explains, “and talk about how they can put meaningful policies in place”. The network has already given a talk to The Times Top 50 Employers for Gender Equality, explaining how businesses can best support their carers.

With a team as passionate as Vicky and Eleanor, there’s no doubt that Centrica will continue to take action, and make impact, for this National Inclusion Week and the next.

Carers Collage