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College awarded Carer-Friendly Employer status

Posted: 05 June 2023

West Nottinghamshire College has been awarded Carer-Friendly Employer status for its work to support staff who have unpaid caring responsibilities outside of work.

The accreditation from Nottinghamshire Carers Association (NCA) is in recognition of the college's commitment and contribution to the Carers Pledge.

Although the college already provides support for employees that need emergency leave and flexible working arrangements, it has worked with NCA over the past 12 months to develop additional ways to assist unpaid carers.

Following a review of its policies and procedures, it has implemented a range of new measures to support people that have these important duties, whether they are applying for a position with the organisation, are newly employed, or an established employee.

These include training three members of staff as volunteer carers’ champions, who act as key partners with the NCA and support colleagues by sharing knowledge, signposting them to information and offering help and advice.

The college’s carers’ champions are learning support assistant Teresa Harvey from its inclusion service, administration co-ordinator Jane Hawksford from the employability and progression team, and crafts teacher Betty Ching, from the adult and community learning department. Each has hands-on experience of caring for a family member or friend, which they juggle with their work and home life, and extensive knowledge and links to outside organisations.

The college has created a dedicated page for carers, called the Carers’ Hub, on its staff intranet site that contains information on accessing its carers’ champions and links to support services. It also has a carers’ page on Microsoft Teams, where Teresa, Jane and Betty share regular information and updates.

Other measures include awareness-raising, staff training and promoting its carer-friendly policies, flexible working and carers’ champions on its recruitment website.

Sian Geeson, head of human resources at the college, said: “We were keen to work with Nottinghamshire Carers Association as we recognised a growing number of our staff have unpaid caring responsibilities and sometimes face challenges balancing these vital demands with their work duties and other commitments.

“We want colleagues to feel supported and be able to access help and advice, have somebody to talk to, and know where to go for information and services available both within the college and in the community.

“This is critical in achieving our continuous aim of ensuring the college is a great place to work by creating an environment where staff feel happy and supported, so they can do their very best for our students.”

Jayne Davies, employer engagement worker at Nottinghamshire Carers Association, said: “The Carer-Friendly Employer Quality Mark recognises the great work the college has done to support its employees who are also unpaid carers.

“Its approach has always been to achieve the best outcome and where there was already carer support in place, it asked how it can be improved to add more value.

“The college looked carefully at how it identified unpaid carers in work, and how it could encourage more carers to identify themselves and let them know about the support available.

“It also reviewed existing policies to embed more carer support, is developing guidance for unpaid carers which includes flexible working arrangements and line manager support, and set up digital channels signposting staff to support both in work and with key external contacts. 

“This collaboration will continue and I know the college will implement even more support going forward.”

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