There are more than 67,000 carers in the Civil Service, according to the 2018 People Survey. I am just one of those people.
We work in every department, every team and at every grade. One of us is probably sitting right beside you. Tomorrow, a twist of fate could mean that it will be you. We come to work because we need to, to make a difference, because we are professional, but most of all we come to work because we are just like you!
My name is Brian Day. I have cared for different family members since the age of 14. Since 2015 I have worked tirelessly to ensure that carers are supported in the Civil Service and that they have all the resources they need to balance work and their caring responsibilities.
I have travelled countless miles across the UK and lost count of the number of presentations on caring I have given. I am an active member of the HMRC Carers Network and the Civil Service Carers Network (CSCN). I am responsible (along with Betty Oginni from the Department for Transport) for putting together awareness products that can be used by all the carers networks in the Civil Service to help carers, non-carers and managers alike. I have also helped government departments set up their own carers network to help them develop a carer friendly workplace.
One of my main passions is ensuring that every carer has a Carer’s Passport. With the number of carers rising, it is a perfect time for everyone to get this vital document in place and let your manager know of your caring responsibilities. The document helps to ensure that carers are able to make clear the types of practical support they require to balance their personal responsibilities with work, such as the benefits of Flexible Working. In my previous blog post, Happy Job Sharing & Caring Father's Day!, I explained how I am a big supporter of flexible working for carers, which can mean anything from job sharing to compressed hours, with lots of variations in between.
On Thursday 28 November, CSCN celebrated carers within the Civil Service with a morning dedicated to the wonderful contribution they make.
Civil Service HR’s Cilla Christmas said: “Carers UK celebrate Carers Rights Day every November, to highlight the work of unpaid carers in the UK. We wanted to celebrate, too, and highlight the carers who juggle caring with working for the Civil Service, as well as those colleagues who offer a helping hand to them.”
Senior Civil Servants have always shown their commitment to Civil Service carers, and this event was no exception. Attending were John Manzoni (Chief Executive of the Civil Service), Rupert McNeil (Government Chief People Officer), Melanie Dawes (CS Diversity & Inclusion Champion) and Bettina Sizeland (Scottish Government Carers Network Champion).
After an inspirational opening speech by Melanie Dawes, the four senior leaders formed a panel to answer questions from the audience and online. The commitment was evident in their responses and it was gratifying that they urged people to challenge poor management behaviours. They were really moved by our Carers’ stories and confirmed they are committed to building an inclusive workplace that supports those with caring responsibilities.
John Manzoni presented the first annual CSCN Carers Champion awards. HMRC featured strongly in the five awards, including Andrew Stonham, lead for HMRC Carers Network in Bootle, and the HMRC Carers Network Steering committee, who won a team award. There were individual awards for Sue Thorpe (Network lead at the Department for Education, Cassie Hedges (Supporting a caring colleague at the Department for Work & Pensions) and Kevin Payne (Supportive management at the DWP). I was honoured to be given the Chairs Choice Award.
The audience then listened to five stories from carers throughout the Civil Service, ranging from one about being a ‘young carer’ at the age of 6, through to one describing the end of the caring journey and the impact that has on a person. Each story was truly inspirational. I am not ashamed to say that there were a few tears in the audience and great empathy from those at different stages of their caring journey.
After a final farewell from Cilla Christmas and Alison Roach, who stepped down as co-chair of the CSCN, we went away determined to continue to celebrate our role as Civil Servants and carers.
Carrying on the fight
As I look back over 2019 I am filled with pride. Organisations like HMRC Carers Network and CSCN have raised the profile of carers in the Civil Service to new heights. Departments now have thriving carers networks and carers have a stronger voice across the Civil Service.
We still have a great deal of work to do to ensure that all our colleagues with caring responsibilities have the support they need in the workplace. But with the support of the networks and our senior leaders, I am really looking forward to 2020. I will be carrying on the fight to raise awareness and help carers around the country.
I am as proud to say I am a Civil Servant as I am proud to be a carer. No matter what I deal with in my personal life I, and others like me, will continue to give 100% to the job we love.