Sainsbury's has today announced that it will be rolling out a new initiative in London with leading charity, the Carers Trust, to support the capital's hidden carers. Hidden carers are people that despite having a caring responsibility do not recognise themselves as carers, and may not realise the support and advice available from local organisations.
Last year Sainsbury's ran a successful trial of this initiative in their Torbay store in the South West, working with the Torbay Care Trust. This was based on research which indicated that carers often did a 'double shop' - purchasing groceries separately for others while doing their own shopping. Sainsbury's therefore worked with the Health Trust to train those who work both in the store and on the pharmacy who might be able to identify potential carers, and also advised on how to approach people sensitively. Those customers who were interested in getting more information were immediately put in touch with experts from the Torbay Care Trust team, also based in the store.
These simple initiatives led to over 140 people signing up to the Torbay Carers Register in a couple of months, around double the number of new joiners the Register would normally expect. Signing up to the Register meant that the carers could gain access to the help, support and expert advice they need from local carers' organisations.
As a result of this successful trial, the Carers Trust approached Sainsbury's to facilitate further events in their stores and give people the opportunity to access help.
Today (Friday 15 June), the Care Services Minister Paul Burstow visited Sainsbury's North Cheam store to endorse the first of a series of events in seven London stores, supported by Carers Trust and local carers' organisations.
Paul Burstow MP, Minister of State for Care Services said: "Carers provide tremendous help to their loved ones and it can be difficult sometimes. But people looking after family or friends don't always see themselves as carers or know that support is available. That's why initiatives such as this are so important."
Jacki Connor, Sainsbury's Colleague Engagement Director, said: "We are proud to be able to offer our support to the Carers Trust to do our small bit to help people access information and help. We know that this can make a big difference and we hope that the pilots in a number of our London stores will help highlight the support networks for hundreds of people. Many of our colleagues are carers too, so this all helps to raise awareness of an issue that affects millions of people across the country."
Anne Roberts OBE, Chief Executive, Carers Trust, said: "We know thousands of carers across the UK don't get the support they need because they simply don't know what help is available. Many carers become exhausted and unwell themselves, and they often don't know where to turn for help. We're delighted to be working with Sainsbury's to make sure more carers find out about the support that's there for them locally."
Rachael MacLeod, Chief Executive from Sutton Carers Centrewill be one of the experts at the North Cheam store on Friday said: "Local carers organisations, like Sutton Carers' Centre, can provide a wide range of advice and support for carers, and we want to ensure as many carers find out about this as possible. We are looking forward to meeting people in North Cheam on Friday and talking to them about the support in our area."
Over 20,000 of Sainsbury's 150,000 colleagues also have caring responsibilities. Sharon Jones, who has worked for Sainsbury's North Cheam storefor seven years, also cares for her son who has cystic fibrosis. Sharon can very often have disturbed nights and well as busy days caring for him. Sharon spoke to Mr Burstow today about her role, and how she will get involved in the initiative to help customers at the North Cheam store.
Sharon said: "I know how tough it can be as a carer and having to deal with the other pressures at work and at home. It's great that Carers Trust are working with Sainsbury's to help raise awareness of the local support networks available, especially as carers are often busy people who don't have time to find the local organisations that can help."
The announcement comes in the run-up to Carers Week (18-24 June),which Sainsbury's also actively supports through stores campaign work. Colleagues in the stores, led by Sainsbury's Diversity Champions, will be raising money for local carers' organisations and stores will also host representatives from carers' organisations in an effort to increase awareness of the valuable work they do in the local community.
Helen Clarke, Carers Week manager, said: "Reaching hidden carers is an integral part of Carers Week. By identifying carers at the start of their caring role we can make sure that they have access to the right advice, information and support. If carers are not supported properly they are likely to become ill themselves as a result of the stress and strain of caring.
"Unpaid carers save the UK economy a fortune - £119 billion per year, we want them to be recognised and supported for what they do. During Carers Week there are thousands of events taking place to highlight the services and support available to carers - it is fabulous that Sainsbury's are playing a vital role in signposting their customers and staff to the help on offer."
Sainsbury's stores across the country are supporting Carers Week either by organising events or supporting fundraising activities. This includes inviting carers in to have a break from their routine by hosting tea parties or arranging exercise and therapeutic classes. Fundraising will also go towards days out for young carers, such as trips to Legoland.
In December 2011 Sainsbury's announced that it had become the first retailer to sign a partnership with leading charity Carers UK. As a result of this, Sainsbury's has joined the Leadership Group of Employers for Carers, a membership forum of employers committed to working carers, chaired by BT and supported by the specialist knowledge of Carers UK. Sainsbury's is now working with Employers for Carers and Carers UK to ensure all of its HR policies are carer friendly.
The care provided by the UK's 6.4 million carers is worth £119 billion each year, an increase of a third on the 2007 figure of £87 billion. Research from Carers UK shows that each carer saves the state on average £18,473 each year.
Notes to Editors
Carers Trust is supporting information stands in store staffed by experts from local centres and health organisations at the following Sainsbury's stores in London:
Carers Trustis a new UK-wide organisation created from the merger of two leading charities with a long history of supporting carers - Crossroads Care, established in 1974 and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, founded in 1991.
Carers Trust works to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems. With our Network Partners, we aim to ensure that information, advice and practical support are available to all carers across the UK. To find your nearest carers' centre or scheme, call 0844 800 4361.More information is available at www.carers.org.
Carers Week(18 to 24 June 2012) is a consortium of eight national charities comprising Age UK, Carers Trust, Carers UK, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, MS Society and Parkinson's UK.
During Carers Week thousands of events take place all over the UK run by a wide range of organisations. If you would like details of regional activities visit www.carersweek.org for more details.