The second Carer Friendly Business Awards took place on Thursday, November 26 as a virtual awards ceremony. They were launched last year by Forward Carers to celebrate businesses and organisations across Birmingham which have contributed to supporting Carers in their community and/or workplace.

Dressed for the occasion, Simon Fenton, CEO of Forward Carers explained that the purpose of our not-for-profit Community Interest Company is to make the world a better place for unpaid carers who are looking after a family member or friend. We’re proud to be the provider of choice for The City Council, The Children’s Trust and NHS by operating the Birmingham Carers Hub, which provides all sorts of help through our contact centre, such as emergency back-up care, support groups, training, wellbeing activities; and we’re also a main delivery partner of Ageing Better in Birmingham facilitating all sorts of activities and groups to reduce loneliness for many older carers.

Nearly all us will be a carer at some point in our life – many of us are in a caring role now, perhaps juggling work and family life; many of us have cared for loved-one in the past; and chances are, we will be caring for someone in the future – often due to frailty that can come with older age, or disability or addiction or even serious illness.

With the pandemic closing down parts of the NHS and social services this year, we now estimate there to be over 170,000 carers in Birmingham, meaning 1 in 3 to 4 households is home to a family-carer. And behind each of these numbers is always a carers story.

Simon referred to his neighbour, Ranj*, a lady in her late 70s who is a full-time Carer to her husband Siddy*. Ranj would often describe her caring day blurring into a caring night then blurring back into the next caring morning – a constant haze of care.

Simon continued, “Caring isn’t simply defined by personal care or physical assistance, it’s any combination of emotional & practical support, ranging from a couple hours per week to round-the-clock care.”

“We want to make Birmingham the first truly Carer Friendly City. To do this – we can’t just rely on our friends in the Voluntary Sector, the Council and NHS, – we need the whole of Birmingham – places of worship, high street retailers, businesses and corporations, citizens themselves working alongside us. Carer Friendly Brum is our way of engaging with organisations in all sectors, and of all shapes and sizes, to can get involved, and play an active part.”

Simon reflected on what life would be like for a Carer to be surrounded by a Carer Friendly community – she would get flexible working hours from her employer, specific support from her GP, she could do the weekly shop during ‘inclusive hours’ and get a coffee at a discounted price.

The Business Awards are part of this ‘Carer-Friendly’ vision for Birmingham, an opportunity to take a little time-out in order to recognise, acknowledge and celebrate all the organisations and businesses, charities, groups, retailers, managers and staff who are doing their bit to make a real difference for their carer employees, staff, customers or clients.

There were five award categories this year, here are the nominees for each category:

The winners of the Carer Friendly Business Awards 2020 are:

The judges this year were: Anjum Khan, Director of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce, Sylvia Thomspon, Family Support Worker for The Birmingham Children’s Trust, Phil Done, Relationship Manager for Ageing Better in Birmingham and Jeff Bryan, Inclusion and Wellbeing Training and Development Manager at University Hospitals Birmingham. All four judges agreed that the nominations were so impressive this year, that that they would like to award everyone with a certificate of thanks and be automatically recognised as Carer Friendly.

The ceremony was streamed live to Forward Carers Facebook page and is still available to watch here:

The evening ended with Simon thanking carers for taking the time to make their nominations and congratulating those that were nominated as well as the worthy award winners.

“A Carers job is rarely done, and our work is to ensure they are better supported and recognised; I am encouraged by you all here this evening, together we can make a difference, together we are creating a Carer Friendly Brum.”

*Names have been changed