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Published: 26 Jun 2024

Natalie Quilter, Notting Hill Genesis – Finalist 2024, Family-Friendly Champion, sponsored by Arnold Clark

Having founded the Carers Network four years ago, Natalie Quilter is its Chair alongside her role as the HR Operational Lead, where she oversees Notting Hill Genesis’ People Strategy. Her role outside work is as a carer for her mum who has Multiple Sclerosis and several mental health conditions, whom she has cared for since she was nine. She has managed caring alongside progressing her career, as well as becoming an ambassador, using her powerful story to inspire and raise awareness for better support for working carers both internally and externally. 

Creating a safe space 

In setting up the network, Natalie has been instrumental in creating a forum for carers to feel seen, supported and valued within the organisation. From the start in 2020, the network has grown from five to 152 with new members joining every week. As part of the network, Natalie runs weekly one-hour check in sessions, creating a safe space for carers to share their stories. Carers from across the organisation, including housing officers, managers and directors are now beginning to share their stories through a campaign run by Natalie, ‘My life as a carer’, that has created visibility and broken down the barriers between career progression and caring responsibilities. The network has helped people identify themselves as carers, with 337 employees self-identifying as carers in staff surveys, up from 75 in 2021. This has led to Notting Hill Genesis’ first carers policy being launched in April and the introduction of Carers Passports, which was worked on in collaboration with Natalie and the Carers Network itself.  

Progressive policies  

Natalie has also taken constructive action to implement measures that support carers in the workplace more formally, including signing up to Harrys Pledge (a commitment to support carers in the social housing sector), updating the flexible working policy and diversity and inclusion impact assessments to be inclusive of carers ensuring colleagues have to consider the positive and negative impacts of carers on any new policy or procedure launched. Data is also key for Natalie and the business, and she spearheaded the implementation of collecting data on caring responsibilities via self-certification on her HR management system, staff surveys, and collecting caring responsibilities during the recruitment process.  

Awareness raising is carried out through carer workshops, e-learning and a dedicated self-education hub created by Natalie to educate staff who may not be exposed to or have caring responsibilities. Further support is provided through, a mentoring programme for working carers, networking and career support through AllBright and external one-to-one support for current and previous carers to help with everything from completing carers assessments to wellbeing. In her role overseeing the People Strategy, Natalie has launched the benefits of a membership with Carers UK, which can be used by staff and residents who may have caring responsibilities helping to support their better together strategy and giving them free access to a hub of resources and a caring coordination app. The launch of new support services and benefits, have all been actioned alongside her roles in HR where she also help to grow  engagement on their benefits platform soaring from 13% to 80%,achieving staff satisfaction of 86%, introduction of further inclusive policies such as fertility treatment, menopause and miscarriage and stillbirth, launching their first cohort of BSL ambassadors and securing various awards and recognition for the business including Top 100 Employers by Stonewall in 2023 and Natalie herself being recognised as a finalist as Young Person of the Year by Investors in People both in 2022 and 2023 

Wider impact 

Natalie’s work to raise awareness externally has been equally as impressive. Through leading a social housing roundtable where she shared her story to highlight the importance of supporting carers, she inspired many others to sign up to Harrys Pledge or start their own carers network. The National Housing Federation (NHF) requested Natalie create a case study for their website to provide a blueprint for other organisations to follow. Natalie has also raised awareness outside the sector and by speaking to businesses to raise awareness of inclusion and supporting carers in the workplace – earlier this year Natalie spoke at Carers UK, Employers for Carers Conference inspiring other organisations how they can go beyond the act and Natalie has spoken at other organisations including Siemens, Reward Gateway and Welsh Water to name a few. Natalie also was invited to be on the Business Disability Forum panel during their annual conference in 2023 for their first ever segment on carers in the workplace. Finally, working with Business in the Community to help create their first ever mentoring programme for carers, ‘Let’s care together’, that supports working carers across all of their 300+ member organisations shows Natalie not only wants to make a difference for working carers internally but across the UK too.