I am writing to let you know that, despite not being directly involved with daily Operations and the other key internal support functions of efficiently running our charity business – Finance, Administration, HR, Statistics, Communications and General Management – my fellow trustees and I, together as a Board, are keenly aware of the immense change and challenge that’s happened to your work routines recently and we are amazed by the tremendous effort that has gone into achieving this so seamlessly –outwardly it’s seen as being delivered without drama!

It is a great credit to you all to have so readily taken on reassignment of your duties to provide enhanced manning of our Response Help Line and deal with the uplift in the volume of queries by email and website, caused by the severe restrictions now imposed by the Government, preventing your movements and stopping opportunity to support Carers face to face. Your innate ability to empathise, console, counsel, guide and give them a phone ‘hug’ is so vital now.

Although only a couple of weeks or so into your revised routines, I am most taken by the sheer speed with which you set up ‘home-working’ at least a week ahead of the so called ‘curve’, and were so practically prepared and routinely underway with handling the situation when the present and real limitations were imposed on normal life.

Sonia is keeping me informed of progress and general morale in her planned briefings to me, and I remain incredibly impressed with your resilience, flexibility and determination to provide the very best service to Carers that you can in such difficult circumstances.

Mr Mark Greening, Carers Commissioning Manager, Adults & Health, WSCC, had this to say about us in writing to Sonia recently, copying in his senior managers and his superiors in West Sussex Adult Services:

Subject: CSWS and the Carer Contract.
Please pass on my sincere thanks to all your staff and volunteers for stepping up so proactively at this time. The way you have been adaptable and shown leadership as an organisation is something that it is very much appreciated…we need to start thinking about how your efforts, outputs and outcomes are demonstrated going forward, [sic] however so that the immense value of what you are doing is understood and valued by strategic leaders.

You should all be immensely proud of what you’ve achieved so far, as is your entire
Board.

Undoubtedly, our registered Carers will be seeking more emotional support than usual, which can become quite draining on you. Because of this you must also take great care of yourselves, organise regular breaks in your work routine, breathe in some fresh air and make time for some informal interaction with team colleagues by phone or email about matters other than work, just to remain a bit sane!

I am encouraged that Sonia will, in conjunction with managers and team leaders, arrange to spread duties to other activity from time to time to reduce ‘Help-line manning fatigue’. We all realise by now, I think, that the coming days and possibly for several weeks ahead will be filled with uncertainty, with even more challenges and you will possibly have anxiety about the future.

I want you to know that we are thinking of how you’re working in your home environs –probably continuing to care for your family at the same time as working and possibly surrounded by relations with all their extra daily demands on you just because you’re there! You must tell your supervisor if you’re feeling overwhelmed or are unwell, so that some relief, respite and healthcare may be organised. We’ll all understand the pressures that this unusual set of circumstances brings to continued working in this way and have empathy with your situation.

When the time is right, we look forward to seeing you again in general meetings with us, and we’ll talk about how you’ve all managed, and learn the lessons from remote working.

In the meantime, try to take good care of yourselves, look after your loved ones as best you can and please do know that you’re valued by us and, I’m sure, are likewise so in your communities.

R. N. Adams
Chair of the Board of trustees
For and on behalf of
Carers Support West Sussex