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Carers week with HMRC: Lesley’s story

Category: testimonial, Carers, Flexible Working, Flexible, Carers’ Network, HMRC, HM Revenue & Customs, What Our People Say, Staff Testimonial, flexiblity, flexibility

HMRC

This week we are celebrating Carers Week, but what is it really like juggling a busy working life with caring responsibilities and how can companies support carers?

We spoke to Lesley Logan, a Senior Strategy Advisor for HMRC, about her experience of caring while managing a successful career at the governing body.

Lesley began her career in the Civil Service in the late 1980s and is now responsible for setting the direction of policy and operations at HMRC. Having been told she is creative and a ‘big thinker’, Lesley thrives professionally in a role where she has the opportunity to think outside the box. 

“I contribute to the customer group strategy in the development of our Customer Value Proposition, including the impact on our People and Culture. I like the fact that it allows you to be really creative and to see the big picture of how things might look in ten years plus,” she said.

After bringing up five children, Lesley is now the primary carer for her mother and father who both suffer with mental health conditions along with some physical ailments. Her estranged husband also recently experienced a psychotic breakdown and now, with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, relies on Lesley to support him.

“My husband was living in his car and was clearly very unwell and I had to work with the authorities to have him sectioned which was a challenge physically and emotionally. Then he couldn’t function on his own so came to live with us. Coping with his needs, being a good mum, daughter and employee is challenging. Then, to make it more complicated, COVID-19 hit and my caring responsibilities have escalated, but I guess it’s all part of the rich tapestry of life,” Lesley said.

So how does Lesley manage these responsibilities while working full time for HMRC?

Flexible working is one of the benefits of working for HMRC and without this working pattern Lesley would not be able to fulfil her caring responsibilities and manage her working life. She relayed:

“When it was clear my dad was in a pickle and my mum was declining I asked for help. I’d only been at HMRC for a year and I said this is the situation I’m in. I was quite demanding when I look back, such was the urgency of the situation. My manager was fabulous, focusing on resolving things quickly with a clear focus on my wellbeing too. I had a flex-working pattern so my mum could get out and my dad, who was suicidal, could be in a safe environment. He was with me Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and I worked from home on a Thursday and changed my working pattern to work  full time over four days. That meant I had Tuesdays off to manage and help him then, as time went on, my mum also declined so they both come over.”

Now Lesley’s parents come to her every day and she helps them with day-to-day caring needs such as preparing meals, managing their finances, arranging their medication and taking care of their mental health. This has meant another request to change her working pattern that was supported readily with empathy and compassion.

As well as flexible working, Lesley has a Carers Passport at HMRC, an initiative designed to help carers outline their specific needs. She is also a member of the Carers Network which offers support, dial in sessions where people can share their stories and find out what support there is available and a Yammer community. On top of that, there is a Carers Champion, the provision of special leave and assistance to support carers mentally, it’s clear to see that carers have the full support of this company.

“It all makes you realise you’re not alone and that you matter. The Carers Passport makes you really think about what you need for you and I don’t think I’d ever done that before. You then don’t have to keep explaining over and over. Caring is an evolving picture, in fact even as I was filling in the passport and pressed submit, I learnt that my mum had  a stroke,” said Lesley.

As mentioned, this week is Carers Week, but what is the purpose and significance of this particular week in the calendar?

“This week is about making caring visible which is really important. For a long time I kept it invisible as I didn’t want to be a burden but I wouldn’t be the person I am today without making it visible and getting the support that’s out there.”

We asked Lesley how important HMRC’s carers initiatives are to her and where she would be without them:

“I honestly don’t think I could have been as successful in my career as I am today without them. I wouldn’t be able to progress in the way I have. I couldn’t be happy in the job I’m doing without the support I’m getting. A job well done is really important to me and my wellbeing. The commitment is there from the top down and the bottom up so it feels really inclusive.”

Thank you Lesley for sharing your story.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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HM Revenue & Customs

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