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.

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. Such wise and inspirational words Jenny, I would urge anyone to take time not just to read but also to watch the video

  2. Thanks for sharing Jenny

    I am currently a full time carer for my 13yr old daughter who has ataxic cerebral palsy and severe learning difficulties, this was caused due to complications at birth. Some people don’t understand how hard it can be to hold down a full time position and care for someone as it feels like you never have a day off.

    • Very true Sandy, It’s liberating to have a safe space to express that so always about if you ever need a coffee download.

  3. A brilliant piece Jenny. You really reinforce the importance of listening to colleagues, and giving them time and space when they need it as you never know what is going on behind closed doors. What you said about taking time to look after yourself so you can be there for others really resonates with me too. Showing you care as always. Thankyou.

  4. Thanks for sharing Jenny, I am sure lots of people will really appreciate you being so honest and open.

  5. I am a carer for my dad he’s 83 and has parkinsons,mum looks after him too she’s 80 we have a carer 5 mornings a week to wash and dress him.It dosent stop you worrying while your at work

  6. As our loved ones live longer and social care funds are not keeping up with demand more and more of us will find that they will be involved in the care of their elderly family. Both my parents are in their 80’s and disabled they look after each other. And thankfully when they are struggling or need help my manager lets me work from their house so I can support them when they need me. I am lucky the COOP is recognising the need. I am concerned for the welfare of our workforce whom could not do there work away from there store or depot. What will they be forced to do? Give up work to look after their parents is that financially possible for most families, I doubt it!

    • Hi Chris, it’s great that you feel supported to look after your parents when you need to. Thanks for raising your concerns about other colleagues. Co-op has a policy which applies to all colleagues who are carer’s and can be found here:

    • Chris, you raise a point that will become challenging for all industries over time as the population mix changes with people living longer. The true sandwich generation. Increasing technology will help both workers and carers and those being cared for a little differently. We really the innovators in this world to focus in this space and see what they can do. Great to here you Manager supports you though.

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Be yourself always, Colleague support, People stories, Show you care, Uncategorized