Birmingham businesses which "prioritise and support carers" across the city are being encouraged to take part in an annual awards programme.
For the second year running, Forward Carers has launched the Carer Friendly Business Awards in a bid to make Birmingham the country's first 'carer friendly city".
Nominations have now opened for the ambitious awards programme which was created to formally recognise businesses, not-for-profits and individuals who have gone the extra mile and made a difference to the daily life of unpaid carers in Birmingham.
The awards are particularly significant this year as many companies and voluntary groups have surpassed themselves to ease the stress of those caring for a vulnerable adult or child during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Forward Carers CEO Simon Fenton said: "During the pandemic we saw human nature at its very best with many businesses prioritising key workers and vulnerable people. Supermarkets opened up earlier for key workers and family carers, while some companies supported their employees so they could work flexibly around their caring responsibilities.
"For unpaid carers, these awards provide a fantastic opportunity to thank those who prioritise and support carers across the city and have helped make their challenging role that little bit easier."
Craig Jenkins, Regional Ambassador for the Families and Carers network at NatWest/Royal Bank of Scotland, picked up the Champion Award category at the very first awards ceremony which took place in 2019.
Craig, who was recognised for ensuring carers were able to maintain a good balance of wellbeing and support from their place of work, said: "Ensuring people's mental wellbeing and happiness at work is in a good place, is a huge part of my job. Members of staff should all know by now that we are in full support of people who are experiencing difficulties at home and may have other responsibilities. We're here to help and we will move mountains to make sure everyone is as happy as they possibly can be while at work."
Simon added: "The awards programme is a fantastic way to promote the importance of supporting carers in the workplace and to engage with businesses across the city. Whether organisations want to improve employee wellbeing or support their customers who are carers, this is a way to acknowledge the steps they have taken to help local families.
"Forward Carers would like to officially recognise organisations that have taken steps to lighten the load in some way - big or small, and made a carer feel more valued in the community."
It is estimated that more than 40,000 children and adults become unpaid carers in Birmingham every year by supporting a family member or friend who is frail, has a serious illness, disability or addiction.
As many people have been shielding or self-isolating due to COVID-19, family and friends have stepped in to support those who could not manage alone. They have helped by doing shopping, ensuring medication was maintained and managing personal care when other statutory support could not be put into place.
The Carer Friendly Business Awards is part of Forward Carers' mission to make Birmingham the first 'Carer Friendly City'. As part of the 'Carer Friendly Brum' initiative, businesses, retailers and community groups are encouraged to offer discounts to Carer Card holders.
Businesses and organisations can sign up to 'Carer Friendly Brum' free of charge and benefit from complimentary advertising to more than 15,000 carers registered with Forward Carers.
Organisations and individuals who are carer friendly and regularly go above and beyond in their support for carers are urged to join the scheme and/or make a nomination for the Carer Friendly Awards.
To find out more about Carer Friendly Brum visit: www.forwardcarers.org.uk/carer-friendly-communities/about-carer-friendly-communities/
To nominate businesses, organisations or a manager for a Carer Friendly Award go to: www.forwardcarers.org.uk/carer-friendly-communities/carer-friendly-business-awards/nomination-form/
Nominations for the awards are now open and will run until Saturday, October 31, 2020, with the winners being announced on Carers Rights Day on Thursday, November 26, 2020 at a Breakfast Award Ceremony.
All awards will be judged by an independent panel of carers and professionals. This year sees an additional award dedicated to those businesses, organisations and/or individuals who have shown remarkable support for Carers during the COVID-19 crisis.
Forward Carers delivers Birmingham Carers Hub, a council and NHS commissioned service providing comprehensive support to over 15,000 unpaid carers in the city. Forward Carers are also running Ageing Better in Birmingham's carers hub, focusing on reducing social isolation and loneliness for Birmingham carers and ex-carers over the age of 50. For help and advice, carers of all ages can call Birmingham Carers Hub on 0333 006 9711.