'Helping working carers could reduce poverty', employers told

Councillors were shown the video on Tuesday morning.
Councillors were shown the video on Tuesday morning.

Employers are being urged to offer more support to workers who care for a relative or friend at home.

Public health officials at Wakefield Council are trying to draw attention to the issue and believe that assisting so-called "working carers" could help in the fight against poverty.

At a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, senior councillors were shown a video depicting the daily life of an employed carer, almost all of whom take on their extra responsibility without pay.

In the film, a woman is seen struggling to juggle the demands of taking her children to school and performing at work while looking after her sick mum.

At one point, she is nagged about her work by a colleague seemingly ignorant to her plight, before her boss later calls her into his office and unexpectedly offers support and sympathy

The video was filmed with council staff, and the lead actress is a local authority worker who is a genuine working carer herself.

An estimated one in seven workers care for a friend or relative outside of their employment.

An estimated one in seven workers care for a friend or relative outside of their employment.

Several members of the council's Cabinet appeared moved by the video.

Council leader Denise Jeffery said: "That really was a marvellous way of presenting that.

"I think we could all feel sympathy there. It was a really good way of showing what's going on, things that we don't always appreciate."

Anna Hartley, the council's director of public health, said the local authority had put in place a number of measures to support its own staff who are carers.

She said: "If we can get things right for working carers, then it will have an impact on reducing inequality in Wakefield.

"We know that carers tend to live in areas where there's high levels of poverty, but also being a carer has a massive impact on your income, and people often have to reduce the amount of work they do or stop working altogether.

"We want to take this (message) out to the private sector. There will be lots of good work going on already out there with working carers, but it's just about encouraging them to think about what more they can do."

Coun Jacquie Speight added: "This is something I'm really passionate about, because I have some caring responsibilities.

"When it happens to you, you realise how difficult it is. Anything that can be done to help other people understand that is a bonus.

"There's so many things that can be done to make people's lives easier, and if we care about them then that's exactly the sort of thing we should be doing."

Local Democracy Reporting Service