Carers Week and the inspiring stories of our carers

20 June 2017

The hard work of carers across the UK was recognised last week as part of the annual Carers Week celebrations

Taking place from 12-18 June, the event aims to raise awareness of caring and the challenges carers face. Hundreds of our stores showed their support by hosting events and welcoming local carer charities in store and we continue to work closely with Carers UK to provide the best support we can to the carers among us at Sainsbury's.
Around 20,000 Sainsbury’s colleagues are carers and we talked to some of them to listen and share their inspirational stories on how they combine work with caring for a family member. 

Hazel Prior, Warehouse Operative, Haydock depot
“I’ve been a carer for just over 20 years. I take care of my mum, who has heart failure as well as really bad arthritis in her back. She can’t stand, so I do pretty much everything for her – housework, cooking and I help her get washed and dressed. It’s tough, but I do it because she’s my mum and she looked after me.

“I’ve worked at Sainsbury’s since 2001, and at the moment I do 40 hours a week of night shifts. I used to do days, but my mum’s got much worse so I’ve changed my shifts to take care of her. When I leave for work, I make sure she’s ready to sleep in her reclining chair (as she can’t lie in a bed), and she’ll do some knitting and sleep if she can. It means I know she’s safe while I’m not there.

“Sainsbury’s has been very supportive, giving me help or letting me swap a shift and my managers always check I’m OK.

“There are so many people around the country caring for others, and they don’t know where they can get help, so Carers Week is such a good thing to raise awareness about all the support that’s available.”

Rebecca Lane, General Assistant, Thanet Westwood Cross Superstore

“My son was three years old when he was diagnosed with autism. At the time I was a store manager, and it was a very stressful period as there just weren’t enough hours in the day to attend appointments and complete the piles of paperwork, while working all hours at work. Sainsbury’s was fantastic and gave me the support I needed to initially step down to become a team leader, and later a general assistant, freeing up some important hours to focus on caring for my son. The whole process was really easy and my store colleagues have always been so supportive.

“I have worked for Sainsbury’s for 25 years and still believe that no other company could offer the flexibility that Sainsbury’s has continued to offer me. Working at such a supportive company means I can get on with caring for my son without any of the added pressures that work could potentially cause.

“We have around ten carers working at our store and we’ve built a fantastic community of support. I often help colleagues with their paperwork and the camaraderie really makes work a happy and social element in my life.” 

Kathryn Lambert, Customer Service Assistant, Eccles Local Store

“I have recently realised that I am a carer for my son – and I say realised as I just see myself as being a mum and looking after my child. He’s 20 years old but was only diagnosed as being autistic last year. I didn’t realise I was classed as a carer until a social worker told me to apply for carer’s allowance when we had a social service care assessment following Jonathan’s official diagnosis. As his carer I need to arrange and take him to his psychologist appointments, GP assessments, while monitoring his medication as he doesn’t leave the house or really his room.

“I love coming to work at Sainsbury's Eccles for the wonderful customers I see daily and the brilliant colleagues I work with. Being a carer can be lonely, as my husband and daughter both work away during the week. My job gives me something to look forward to each week. In fact just last week I was really pleased to find I had been voted Colleague of the Year at our store, which is such a lovely recognition especially as I only work two days a week so don’t see a lot of the store colleagues.”

Martin White, Lead Design Manager, Online Experience Team

“I’ve been a carer since my twin boys were born 13 years ago. Although being a parent is essentially being a carer, our sons have cerebral palsy so they need a lot of care and attention. 
“I’ve been with Sainsbury’s for three years now and, while some of my previous employers found it hard to empathise, there’s a real, genuine understanding here. Because we have such a diverse range of customers and colleagues, everyone’s really respectful of different needs outside work and helps however they can. 
“That support and flexibility makes such a difference to our family. My role means I can work from home on occasion if I need to go to the boys’ appointments at school or hospital. Recently, one of my sons needed a major operation and everyone was really accommodating and understanding, particularly my line manager Charlotte and my immediate colleagues. 
“I juggle my work, but my wife’s the primary carer and had to give up her job to take care of the boys. Our future and prospects look very different now. We don’t have two incomes so I work a lot harder to compensate. 
“By nature, Sainsbury’s is a very caring employer and that’s really reflected in everything they do to support Carers Week and colleague carers.”

Marie Jones, Checkout Assistant, Pontllanfraith Superstore

“My role to provide help and support to both of my parents began in 2014 when my mum and dad’s health began to suffer. In May 2014, mum had a spinal stenosis operation which left her requiring support physically and emotionally to encourage her recovery.  Very shortly after this she had a hip replacement, meaning the recovery was slow and often painful for mum.  I soon realised that my support was imperative, with mum requiring not only emotional support, but also physical support whilst helping her fulfil daily tasks ranging from dressing, cooking and simply helping to get around the house.” 

“In October 2014 and on her 70th birthday, mum unfortunately suffered a stroke.  This came as a huge shock as previously it had been my dad with the health issues.  Amongst many ailments, dad had heart failure which consequently has left him with a form of dementia and therefore, unable to remember crucial information regarding mums health.  From this point it was crucial that I was around in order to relay medical information for both of my parents to the professions involved.

“My role involves supporting mum and dad on a personal level and also accompanying them to their medical appointments where I discuss their history with the medial staff involved.  I also arrange home visits with St David’s Foundation which is a local charity organisation that assists patients and their families through terminal illnesses.   I liaise with the many Dr’s, consultants and nurses on a daily basis, feeding back on how mum and dad are doing taking the correct course of action as and when required.

“I do not see my support as anything other than being a caring daughter as I am sure if the role were reversed, they would do the same. Whilst coping with the extremely difficult circumstances, my ‘saving grace’ would be my work in Sainsbury’s Pontllanfraith, which allows me a little bit of normality and where I can be Marie.”