Each year, the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) celebrates the best campaigns and campaigners and is interested in finding those who have made change happen.
This year, Forward Carers entered the SMK National Campaigner Awards. We submitted our Unsung Heroes campaign for the Best Community Campaign Award category. This campaign raised awareness of and celebrated family and other unpaid Carers across Birmingham aged 50 years and over. We are pleased to share that we were runner up to a very worthy winner, Mums for Lungs.
Carers’ Voice – Unsung Heroes Campaign – Background, Aims and Success
The Unsung Heroes campaign, led by Forward Carers, was set up to raise awareness and celebrate the role of family carers across Birmingham. The campaign was part of Ageing Better in Birmingham and funded by The Big Lottery Fund and came to an end in June 2020.
One in four households in Birmingham is home to a person who cares for someone else, yet 50% of people say they don’t know any Carers. It is a ‘hidden’ role that takes place behind closed doors, and many can feel disconnected and unseen by their community, and lonely and isolated in their role.
The aim of the Unsung Heroes campaign was to bring the caring role into sight so that Carers felt seen, valued, and connected to their community. Forward Carers supported Carers to tell their own stories, via a series of ‘Unsung Heroes’ videos and blogs that were shared across a social media campaign, giving voice to the rich and diverse realities of the caring role. This platform for people’s voices and experiences, helped ensure they were ‘seen’ and valued. It also forged connections between Carers, reducing isolation. You can find out more about the campaign and its resources here.
Forward Carers also worked with local influencers and decision-makers, such as GPs and MPs, calling on them to stand up for Carers’ needs. And the UK’s first ever Carer Friendly Business Awards spotlighted good practice amongst employers, organisations and businesses, encouraging others to follow suit.
Dr Leon Quinn and Dr. Anna Hraboweckyj from the Social Effectiveness Research Centre evaluated the Unsung Heroes campaign. The key findings were:
- 65% of Carers thought the Unsung Heroes campaign had increased the awareness of the issues Carers face & encouraged activities, employers, organisations and institutions to be carer friendly
- 75% of Carers were more aware of the services and support available to them because of the Unsung Heroes campaign
- 58% of Carers said the Unsung Heroes campaign had made them feel like they had more help around them
Chantell Marler, Campaign Lead for Forward carers said,
“It’s fantastic to have our Carers Campaign recognised by the SMK National Campaigner Awards and to be runner up to such a deserving winner. It is thanks to the dedication, commitment, and passion shown by the family Carers who participated in and supported the campaign, that we were able to raise awareness of this previously undervalued and unrecognised community. We thank everyone for being part of this amazing campaign and hope it will continue to inspire people to be aware of and connect with Carers.”
The Unsung Heroes campaign ended in June 2020 but was the catalyst for the Carer Friendly Communities programme, a national initiative to improve support for and recognition of Carers of all ages. Carer Friendly Communities empowers communities to make small changes that make a big difference to the lives of Carers. Any organisation can become Carer Friendly – find out more here.