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Published: 27 May 2021

Forward Carers – Winner 2021, Best for Innovation

When the pandemic hit, Forward Carers, a West Midlands based carer and family support organisation, recognised the huge impact that it would have for unpaid carers across the UK.

With support and day services forced to reduce or close, it meant up to 50% more unpaid carers. Balancing the pressures of working from home for the first time with new or increased caring responsibilities proved to be extremely stressful for many people. Added to this, carers who supported a loved-one outside of their own home needed a simple way to validate their reason for leaving their house during the lockdown restrictions.

This led to Forward Carers developing their pioneering Carers Card, the UK’s first 3-in-1 tool to offer such support across the community. It acts as verification that the individual is a carer and helps them to have open conversations about their role, provides access to shopping discounts. ‘In case of emergency’ details are printed on the card to ensure that those who are looked after by the individual are cared for in an emergency. A QR code confirms the validity of the card for anyone who is curious.

One individual recalled the relief she felt at being able to present the card to supermarket staff when challenged on why she had her cared-for son with her, when solo visits were being encouraged.

Research with unpaid carers has discovered that experiences in the community can impact on their stress levels and working lives. This valuable card will hopefully build better support and ensure that all carers have positive experiences in work and the wider society.

Since the start of the pandemic, 1,900 carers in Birmingham have received their card free of charge. It has been promoted through social media campaigns and digital newsletters. The number of companies providing Carers Card discounts is growing, increasing the financial benefits to cardholders.

Employers can bulk-buy the Carers Cards directly for their staff and Forward Carers have launched a Communities programme, which educates organisations on how to effectively support carers in their workforce.

The company ran their second Carer Friendly Business awards, celebrating 53 companies supporting carers.

Forward Carers prides itself on using research and learning from ‘experts by experience’. Employees, volunteers, and carers in the wider community will continue to inform and inspire their work.

Award sponsored by Adactus Ltd

Find out what the judges and sponsor had to say about Forward Carers – winner of the Best Innovation Award.