By Jenny Alleyne, Head of Retail Risk Health and Safety
Being a carer can be hard. When I was 13, my mother started showing signs of mental health illness, which was exacerbated by a string of awful events. She became very anxious, and her OCD became extreme to the point of her waking up, eating and sleeping at set times of the day. Her mind and body have also suffered over the years due to various different drugs and treatments for her symptoms.
It’s Carers Week this week, which helps recognise the contribution all carers make to families and communities. I’m really passionate about this, along with Mental Health Awareness Week, which is why I’m inspired to share my story.
It’s hard seeing someone you love go through something that you can’t fix. It’s hard to go from being a child to being a carer overnight. It’s hard to look after someone who can’t look after themselves. But no matter what you might be going through, you’re not alone in this journey.
There are 6.5 million people in the UK who help look after family or friends who might have a disability, mental or physical illness. I know a lot of our colleagues are carers who also work full or part time jobs, and it’s never easy. My managers and leaders have all helped by giving me time and space I need to look after my mum.
I’m passionate about our colleagues, their safety and wellbeing, which is why I do the work I do. My advice to anyone and everyone is to never be scared to ask for help – everyone needs help, support and sometimes space, to let frustrations out. And never feel bad for taking time for yourself.
Don’t forget that our LifeWorks services are also here for you 24 hours a day. They are specialists and can help with practical guidance and counselling on a whole range of topics, including:
- health and wellbeing
- personal and work-related issues
- money and debt
- caring responsibilities
- legal matters
Your concern doesn’t need to be work-related either, and everything is completely confidential and free. If you can’t access LifeWorks, you can submit a request to the support team.
I’ve also filmed a video sharing my story, which you can find here.