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Carers Week recognises and celebrates the 6.5 million carers in the UK who balance work with caring for a family member or friend. With around 20,000 carers at Sainsbury’s, we’ve used this opportunity to recognise the amazing work our colleagues do for their families and communities. Across the country we’ve invited local caring organisations into our stores and launched a new colleague support website in collaboration with Carers UK. Here’s one of our colleagues, Vicky, and her personal caring story.
I cover the North West Region for Argos which is geographically north, south and west Lancashire and the whole of Cumbria. I'm a working mum and a carer for my son, Ethan, who has Down's syndrome. He's going to be 16 this year and I wanted to share a little with you.
Ethan's Down's syndrome means he has severe learning difficulties so my partner Lee and I have to direct and support Ethan with all his activities and with the things he needs help with. This can be anything from personal hygiene, helping him dress and preparing anything he needs for school. We have to monitor his timekeeping, when he prepares food, and take him to and from activities as he's unable to do these things by himself. Timekeeping is particularly difficult for him as he isn't able to tell the time and struggles with the concept of it!
Work has been very flexible and supportive when I need to go with him to appointments connected to Ethan's condition, like school meetings around funding his support, and check-ups with the doctor. Working with my manager, I've been able to move my hours around and finish early a couple of days a week when work commitments allow, making sure I'm there when Ethan comes home from school and catching up on admin in the evening.
I've found it really helps to be transparent about what support you need so that you can mix work and your caring responsibilities together, and raising this when it might be a challenge.
I'm really grateful for this degree of flexibility. Not being afraid to ask for help is so important when you're juggling the kind of demands we have as a family.
I’m very lucky to have a supportive partner and family, who all play a part when they can too. Despite some of the challenges we might face as parents with a child with a disability, it’s also worth pointing out that having Ethan has enriched all of my family and friends lives and we’ve learned not to take things for granted quite as much as we might have before. We get so much joy from Ethan's achievements and different perspectives on life, which are so refreshing!