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No more suffering in silence

Yvonne Taylor knows from experience just how important it is to get the right information when we're looking after someone.

As a workplace champion, she's been making the most of Carers Week to reach out to colleagues who may be quietly struggling with their caring role.

Yvonne and her son

“When my son, Christian, was around 3½, he was diagnosed with autism and a rare chromosome disorder called 16p11.2 microduplication.

If it sounds complicated, it’s because it is. I spent hours arming myself with information, trawling through online research. It was bewildering, and I desperately wanted to find someone to help me understand the legislation and work out what my entitlements were.

Even now I’ve been a carer for eight years, I’m still discovering lots of new things. It was only fairly recently that I registered as a carer at my doctor’s surgery, for example. Who knew?

Christian is at mainstream school now, but I’m trying to move him to specialist provision – and in the meantime I have to give him a lot of support. Effectively I have to partly home-school to find ways that are appropriate for him to learn. This involves juggling lots of courses, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and so on. It also means managing his medication and nutrition, and helping with other elements of personal care that his condition makes difficult.

In order to do all that, I’ve had to reduce the hours I work at Sainsbury’s. I simply could not have managed otherwise.

This is something I feel so strongly about. For many of us, our time at work is our respite – our chance to do something for ourselves. So getting help at work is so important.

My colleagues had been approaching me personally because they were struggling to cope with caring issues alongside work. So I approached my HR manager, Mary, and together with Sarah, an HR manager and Regional Diversity Champion, we’ve decided to set up a Carers Group in the cluster of stores we’re a part of.

We thought it would be a good idea to use Carers Week to get it all moving, so we set up noticeboards, I handed out Carers UK materials and talked to colleagues about Sainsbury’s caring policies and my own experience of caring.

Many of us spend years caring, suffering in silence and somehow feeling guilty about thinking about our own needs or talking about our feelings. I’m working on setting up a Carers Café – where we can get together to focus on ourselves for a change!”

During Carers Week, hundreds of people like Yvonne have been taking information about caring into workplaces, libraries, hospitals, GP surgeries. Will you take some of our guides to give out in your community?

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