Carers Rights Day was celebrated in style across the West Midlands with the Carer Friendly Business Awards 2021 evening.

The nominations for the five Carer Friendly Business Award categories – Customer Care, Carers Champion, Employer and two new categories; Autism/ADHD and Dementia; opened during Carers Week back in June. Throughout the process, the nominations submitted demonstrated excellent examples of how businesses and organisations from across the West Midlands were supporting unpaid Carers.  It was clear, that it was going to be a  tough job for the judging panel to select the final winners.

The independent panel of judges has been selected carefully over the years to ensure a fair and well-represented viewpoint. Jeff Byran, Anjum Khan, Phil Done, Sylvia Thompson and Cllr Mary Locke all value the caring community and understand the importance of creating Carer Friendly Communities. The panel met at the beginning of November and was impressed with the high standard of nominations.

The winners of the Carer Friendly Business Awards were revealed at a virtual awards ceremony on 25 November 2021 to mark Carers Rights Day attended by 64 guests from across the region.

The event was a stark reminder of the importance of creating Carer Friendly Communities, how challenging the last year has been for many but more so for those caring for someone who cannot manage without their support.

Dressed in his dinner jacket and bow tie, Simon Fenton, the CEO of Forward Carers, highlighted four Carers who r have been instrumental in supporting the not-for-profit this year. With a round of applause  Sarah Stafford, Marie Bushell, Neil Joesbury and Sylvia Johnson were thanked for their support which is in addition to their caring roles.

As the ceremony section began the room came alive with energy as nominees were excited to see if they had been successful in winning their category.

The Carer Friendly Business Award winners were thrilled to have received such a wonderful accolade for their work and achievements The winners were:

  • Autism/ADHD – Mark Wretham, Developing Young Active Minds
  • Dementia – Leaf Creative Arts CIC
  • Customer Care – Sumera Naaz – OSCAR Birmingham
  • Carers Champion – St Andrews Healthcare Birmingham
  • Employer – Shrubbery School

The final award, judged by the Forward Carers team, was for Making a Difference. All nominations were considered but one nomination really stood out due to the wider impact on the whole family. The Carer Friendly Making a Difference Award went to  Nigel Macrow, Disability Manager at the Aston Villa Foundation.

The judges had such a difficult time deliberating with some scores literally balancing, it was felt that a Highly Commended category should be instated. On the evening the following were announced as being Highly Commended:

  • Michelle Boyce, Birmingham Mind
  • Rainey Community Creations
  • Carers Support Team, University Hospitals Birmingham
  • Caring for Carers, Sandwell Crossroads
  • The Management Team at Marks and Spencer (Princess Park)

Forward Carers Project Manager, Chantell Marler thanked all of the Carers who took the time to send a nomination and acknowledged that a Carers “voice is so important to the work we do and we value you.” She congratulated the winners and nominees and noted the “truly inspiring examples of how Carers have been supported this year.”

 Simon Fenton closed the evening by recognising, “A Carer job is rarely done and our work to ensure they are better supported and recognised is only just the beginning.” I am encouraged by you all here this evening, together we can make a difference; together we care creating Carer Friendly Communities.”

Forward Carers will be welcoming the winners and highly commended nominees to a breakfast celebration event on 8th December were trophies and certificates will be presented. Forward Carers plans to develop relationships with all the nominees and award winners to work towards creating Carer friendly communities up and down the country.