Place Category: Health & Social Care
Forward Carers is a West Midlands based award-winning social enterprise committed to creating ‘Carer Friendly Communities’. This radical new approach to Carer support brings whole communities together to make life better for Carers. Unpaid Carers are amazing people who support someone who relies on them due to a disability, illness or frailty.
We work in partnership with other not-for-profits to provide a wide-range of free advice, support and wellbeing services that make a real difference. As the lead partner of Birmingham Carers Hub, we work with 16 delivery partners to support over 18,000 Carers based in Birmingham.
Through our Carer Friendly Communities programme, we deliver the national Carer Friendly ID and Discount Card, and we support organisations to become Carer Friendly spaces that welcome customers who are unpaid Carers. We also support employers to create Carer Friendly Workplaces where employees juggling paid work and an unpaid caring role can thrive, via Carer Aware training and our Carer Friendly Employer Commitment Mark
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Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders are asked to respond to a set of social impact questions, which are designed to help them think about the social impact they create, and to articulate this clearly and succinctly.
Updated August 2021
1) What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?
We are a West Midlands based award-winning social enterprise and CIC working in health and social care. We create Carer Friendly Communities.
Unpaid Carers are amazing people who care for a family member or friend who couldn't manage without them. One in four houses in Birmingham is home to a Carer.
The caring role can be incredibly demanding, without support, Carers can and do burn out. Care breakdown takes a high emotional toll on families and financial toll on social care and the NHS.
During the pandemic, Carer numbers doubled while services for those with care needs were halted and the formal/ informal support Carers rely on was unavailable.
We provide information, advice, support and preventative wellbeing services to Carers so families can stay together, healthily and happily.
Our purpose is to create Carer Friendly Communities, places that value and understand the caring role and open their eyes and hearts to the lives of the unpaid Carers who are our neighbours, colleagues, friends, and relatives.
2) What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?
Forward Carers is a West Midlands award-winning social enterprise and CIC, committed to creating ‘Carer Friendly Communities’. We’re the lead partner and founder of Birmingham Carers Hub, and other Carer services, delivered in partnership with 20 grassroots organisations based in the communities they serve, in over 10 community languages.
We provide free advice, support and wellbeing services that make a real difference to the lives of over 18,000 family Carers in Birmingham. We also raise awareness of the caring role and empower others to become Carer Friendly, a radical new approach to Carer support that brings whole communities together to make life better for Carers.
During the pandemic, we launched the Carer ID Card, a brand new card that unpaid Carers could use as proof of their caring role and need to leave their home during lockdown to provide care to someone who relied on them who lived outside of their house. Over 1,200 cards were distributed to Birmingham Carers for free.
During 2020 we innovated new services and adapted our existing services to respond the Carers’ needs. An overview of our activities of just some of the activities delivered across our partnerships is given below:
- 6,654 Safe and Well check-in calls made to 2966 Carers
- fast-tracked £399,400 in new emergency funds, and wellbeing funds, to help 858 families affected by the pandemic
- supported the Council to send text support to 4,000 Carers/ telephoned 6,654 Carers to check they were safe and well and ask what they needed / sent 27 info-mails to 7,686 registered Carers
- Our online groups attended by 2338 Carers reduced isolation, over time becoming a place of laughter and warmth
- participated in delivering over 3,000 ‘Letters to Loved ones’ for families separated from hospital patients and liaised between Doctors and Carers
- provided over 836 one-to-one support sessions for vulnerable Carers, including making covid-safe doorstep visits
- provided 100s of food and recipe parcels for young adult carers who cook for their families and food parcels for struggling families
3) What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?
Our services and activities are provided to unpaid Carers who support a loved one in Birmingham for free, helping Carers to:
- develop manage their role healthily and happily (statutory Carers Assessment);
- develop the skills to carry out their role (Carer training);
- improve Carer wellbeing (relaxation and wellbeing activities);
- help Carers to manage the financial impact of their caring role (wellbeing budget payment and advice about welfare and entitlements);
- reduce loneliness and isolation (in-person and online support and activity groups and Ageing Better funded groups);
- understand and benefit from the support available (one-to-one sessions and guidance via our helpline) and receive support that meets their unique needs (our Carer Projects), and much more.
While we principally support adult Carers, we also provide a range of specialist support for young and young adult Carers, working Carers, dementia Carers, Carers from diverse communities, addiction Carers, mental health Carers and more.
Unpaid Carers provide care valued at over £132 billion, that’s equivalent to the cost of the NHS. In fact, more social care is provided by family members or friends than the NHS or paid workers. When family care breaks down, it comes at a high cost to our communities, the NHS and the social care system. By improving Carer wellbeing, we all benefit. Across Birmingham, one in four houses is home to a Carer.
In 2020 we launched our Carer Friendly Communities programme, which is funded through reinvestment of our profits. Our Carer Friendly Communities programme opens the eyes and hearts of our communities to the lives of Carers and Parent-Carers, who are our neighbours, colleagues, friends, and relatives. We flipped the model of support we offer – our core activities provide support and services direct to Carers. As Carer Friendly Communities, we raise awareness of the caring role amongst organisations, businesses and health care trusts, helping them to take practical steps that will make a positive difference to Carers, growing in strength as a community.
One of our core Values is to be a ‘Trusted-partner’.
Across our partner network we add value by providing training and guidance in reporting and CRM systems.
During the pandemic, we contributed to the city-wide ‘Gold Command’ emergency response, engaging with statutory agencies, local authority, NHS and partners, to co-ordinate the city’s response.
4) Please describe how your income and/or any profits generated from previous years has been maximised in delivering social outputs and adding social value.
100% of our surplus is reinvested into our core purpose to deliver Carer Friendly Communities. In 2020/2021 this was £70,911 (see published accounts).
These funds allow us to expand our Carer Friendly Community programme which is not funded by our existing contracts or grants. Over the past three years, this reinvestment has allowed us to distribute free Carer ID cards during the pandemic, put on the annual Carer Friendly Business awards and has enabled us to expand our Carer Friendly Community programme to develop a package of support for businesses that employ working Carers.
The below questions are not mandatory, but Mark holders are encouraged to answer them where possible, to provide a fuller account of their social outcomes and the social value they create.
5) How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?
Impact-Driven is one of our core Values.
Our key impact measure is improvement in Carer wellbeing which we measure during the Carer Assessment and again during the Carer Review, usually 6 – 12 months later. Our Wellbeing Check is based on the 9 domains of wellbeing included in the Care Act (2014) and provides are view of the impact of the caring role on Carer wellbeing across the most important areas of their life. In 2020, despite the pandemic, 7 out of 10 Carers experienced improved wellbeing and on average Carer wellbeing improved across every domain, with an average improvement of 13%. (See Impact Review, page 41).
Each year we deliver and the Survey of Adult Carers in England on behalf of Birmingham City Council. This is a mandatory survey which is carried out nationally to understand the impact that services have had on different parts of a Carers’ life, such as their general health and their life outside of their caring role.
Our delivery partners provide regular update reports on activities and KPIs and we meet with funders to discuss progress against target.
We record and publish Carer feedback across our social media platforms and in our Impact Review.
Our partners provide a detailed Carer Case Study in their service reports.
We undertake internal project evaluations and work with external evaluators for some funded projects (see Impact Review page 32 or Unsung Heroes - Forward Carers).
6) How many people have benefitted from your actions and what measures of benefit can you report?
The Carers we supported in 2020:
- We supported 4,232 individual Carers
- We registered 2,638 new Carers
- 1,549 Carers contacted us via our specialist helpline
- 1,156 Carers are registered with our Emergency Response Service in case of a crisis that means they can’t provide support for the person they care for.
7) What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that help illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?
Working Carers juggle unpaid care with paid work. When employers make small changes to support Carers, it can make all the difference. Neil has been caring for his dad and brother since his mother passed away a few years ago. Neil works for Marks and Spencer, who deliver a Staff Carer Support scheme in store, meaning that steps have been put into place to ensure Neil can be available for his brother and sibling for medical appointments. Neil can keep his mobile phone with him during working hours and access support when needed.
This means that Neil can focus on his job, knowing he is available if needed. Neil values the support and is happier and relaxed in his role, resulting in a positive and happier member of staff.
In September 2019, Rohalia suffered a bleed on the brain, leaving her with communication difficulties, immobile and unable to look after herself.
During Rohalia's treatment at Moseley Hall Hospital, Headway Birmingham & Solihull, a Birmingham Carers Hub partner, supported her son Anthony. A Statutory Carer’s Assessment gave Anthony the chance to discuss his caring role and the impact it was having on him, to find out about support and services and to successfully apply for a number of available state benefits such as Carer’s Allowance.
As Anthony is a full-time Carer for his mum and unable to work, we also awarded a wellbeing payment to help lighten the financial and emotional load of caring. The hospital visiting restrictions made Rohalia’s readmissions particularly stressful. Fortunately, our Carer Coordinators act as a point of contact for Carers like Anthony and share news and updates on a loved ones health and wellbeing.
Anthony has continued to receive phone calls from Headway providing emotional support and regular safe and well checks throughout the pandemic. The delivery of a Christmas Hamper containing food and treats brought some much-needed festive cheer. Anthony said, “Headway gave me the support when I most needed it.”
Since 2017, 21-year-old Renee has received ongoing support from YMCA Sutton Coldfield where
she first joined the weekly young Carer drop-ins at a local coffee shop. Renee said that these meetings, “provided a much-needed place where I could just talk about everything that had been going on and finding a solution to things that seemed impossible”.
Renee said that the support she has gained from the YMCA has “been immense which in turn has led to an increase in my confidence, esteem and overall mental health. One of the key ways I think you have supported us, as young Carers was to recognise the need for a temporary escape from caring to be a regular young person even if we are not always able to attend because of our caring commitments.”
She added, ‘Throughout the difficult year of 2020, YMCA Sutton Coldfield has ensured that Young Carers are being thought of and taken care of too, whether it's through a text, a call, or a face-to-face meeting when possible, so I would just like so thank you for all of your hard work, it is so appreciated.”
8) What social and environmental benefits have you created arising from internal operational policies and other actions?
Employee benefits - Volunteering
This year, in consultation with our staff, we have expanded our Volunteering Policy so that all staff are eligible to apply for up to two days’ paid leave per annual leave year to volunteer for an organisation that operates in the West Midlands.
Where staff are applying to volunteer for a national or international event lasting more than one week or 7 days, up until 4 days paid leave can be applied for. Volunteers’ leave can be used in full or half days. Additionally, staff may request special unpaid leave for additional volunteering days.