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Supporting carers over 50 back into employment


Our Working Potential programme is a research project that aimed to collect and collate as much information as possible about the best way to support people over 50 who are currently carers to explore job opportunities in preparation for returning to work either on a full or part time basis. We also worked with employers to understand the barriers that they face recruiting and retaining carers in the workplace and to identify best practice.


This significant step is one that many carers come to face.  It can be a very daunting prospect as many people become deskilled or lose their confidence following a period away from conventional work settings.


The Working Potential programme allowed us to understand the most effective steps by which carers can be encouraged and supported on their journey into new working roles, at the same time boosting self-esteem, reducing social isolation and assisting integration into new and wider communities.


Research from Carers UK shows that 2.6 million have quit their job to care for a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill, with nearly half a million (468,000) leaving their job in the last two years alone - more than 600 people a day. This is a 12 per cent increase since Carers UK and YouGov polled the public in 2013. The findings also show that more people are caring than previously thought, with almost 5 million workers now juggling their paid job with caring – a dramatic rise compared with Census 2011 figures of 3 million. The research emphasises the need for UK employers to support the rapidly increasing number of staff with caring responsibilities to stay in the workforce.


Research shows that the majority of carers are of below state pension age and the peak age for caring is 50-64 - over 2 million people in this age bracket are carers. For more information on carers, click here to read Carer UKs briefing, 'Facts about cares'.


Carers as co-researchers


A key element of the Working Potential programme was that we are offering carers the chance to become co-researchers on the project, ensuring that real voices are both heard and heeded.


Coaches worked closely with all carers and provide ongoing intensive personalised support and advocacy.


The following organisations delivered Working Potential in Wigan, Bolton and Salford respectively:


Wigan - Making Space

Making Space Wigan provides services at the heart of local communities in the comfort of people’s own homes, as well as offering a range of specialist care and support services. They deliver all their services with dignity, respect and compassion, focusing on outcomes that give the people they support the freedom to enjoy the best everyday life possible.


Bolton – Bolton at Home

Bolton at Home is a charitable community benefit society that seeks to make people’s lives better via quality housing that helps people to thrive, at the same time ensuring customers to maximise income potential. To achieve this, they worked in partnership with a variety of local charities, social enterprises and other agencies. Click here to read Bolton at Home's Working Potential Impact Report.


Salford - Upturn Enterprise

Upturn is a non-profit social enterprise committed to helping individuals, public, private and third sector organisations and businesses unlock their full potential via sustainable solutions which contribute positive, long lasting impacts on the wider community.




As a prt of the Working Potentia project, the Centre for Ageing Better commissioned Manchester Metropolitan University to conduct qualitative research to capture the emerging insights of carers, frontline project delivery staff and employers as Working Potential proceeded. Read their report, Supporting Carers back into work, by clicking here.