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This year people across the UK and Ireland are facing new challenges as a result of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. Many people are taking on more caring responsibilities, whether it’s home-schooling their own children or looking after the elderly, those with disabilities or seriously ill relatives or friends.

With most children at home and an additional 4.5 million carers emerging as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital to open up the conversation around support for those juggling multiple extra responsibilities.

We spoke to Raj Jones, Diversity and Inclusion Manager for Sodexo UK & Ireland, about where our employees can find support, and how they can help to shape the future:

“Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to all employees who have caring responsibilities. As a mum to two daughters, aged 2 and 3, and a carer for my mum who has dementia, I know first-hand how challenging this can be, and even more so during the Coronavirus pandemic. Last week was Carers Week 2020, with a theme of ‘Making Caring Visible’ and I know that – like many other companies – we’ve got work to do to make sure our carers are visible and valued.”

Raj told us how important early and open conversations with colleagues and line managers can be, especially for those caring for the elderly or a close friend: “Often, but not always, those with children can be more inclined to talk about the fact that they have this additional responsibility. But those caring for an elderly relative or friend can find it harder to seek support, or even to have the conversation at all. Sodexo’s a supportive place, so I’d encourage anyone to make their caring responsibilities known.”

Raj also encourages everyone to make use of two specialist support networks set up for Sodexo employees: “The Sodexo Working Parents Facebook group is a great forum to share the joys and the challenges of childcare with other parents and carers. Many ideas start here, which then grow and can be taken on by the organisation to support parents.”

“The Sodexo Generations employee network, which is chaired by Alex Murray-Hawkes (Support Account Manager, Corporate Services) exists to raise awareness and understanding of the different generational groups within Sodexo. The group looks at the impact they can have in the workplace and how to support employees with parental or caring responsibilities. To find out more, or to get involved in this work, please contact the Generations network via email.”

For specific support, Raj suggests checking out the materials on the Sodexo Wellbeing Hub, and being clear about what your support needs are: “Sometimes, when we get to the stage of asking for support, we don’t know what we need and we don’t know what’s available. Researching your options first is a great idea – be as clear as you can about what you need, and if you’re unsure what’s available, don’t be afraid to ask – your caring responsibilities are important.”

We want to shine a light on the great work carers do and help others understand what it means to be a carer so we can do our absolute best in supporting you. If you would like to share your experiences or feedback, please email the Generations network.

Finally, Raj adds: “Look after yourself – it can be tough and tiring. There will be highs and lows and it’s okay to get frustrated. Seek support via Sodexo Supports Me if you need it and take a break when you can.”

 

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