Sonia Mangan started her new role as Chief Executive of Carers Support West Sussex in July 2019.  In her first blog post, Sonia talks about what her first few weeks in post have been like.

Dear All

Good to be able to talk with you albeit virtually – especially as when you start a new job your task in the first few weeks is to listen and understand.

This is my fifth charity Chief Executive job but only my second in the lovely south east. The charities I have lead before have been working with and for older people, people with sight problems and people with mental health problems.  I know that it is important to listen to what people have to say and to act consistently and constantly based on what you have heard and understood.

The focus of my discussions so far with the many and varied staff and volunteer teams we have has been to establish from them what is valued; what we need to do more of; and/or what we need to do differently.

The overwhelming value that comes across is the passion and compassion our teams have for the work we do, who we do it with and for and how we do it.

We are the first port of call for many people across this county who support family, friends, neighbours and partners as they navigate their lives through tricky emotional or physical issues. There are almost 90,000 carers in this county and we are supporting, caring and loving people every day who are living with a range of life-limiting conditions and are doing that willingly. What we know is that sometimes they need someone to be there for them to help with some of the difficult circumstances they find themselves in.

I have heard so many stories of how our team of staff and volunteers make a difference to the lives of carers every day and I am very proud to say I am now part of that team.

Over the coming months I will be talking with carers directly, responding to the outcomes of our recent residents survey, considering the outcomes of the survey that West Sussex County Council did two years ago about what carers value from services that support them and looking nationally at outcomes of the recent State of Caring Survey 2019.

On that last one nearly 8,000 people from across the UK responded and of those :

  • 20% also have childcare responsibilities for a non-disabled child under 18.

  • 39% are in paid work. Of those, 47% work full-time and 53% part-time.

  • 31% have been caring for 15 years or more,15% for between 10–14 years, 24% for 5–9 years, 26% for 1–4 years and just 4% have been caring for less than one year.

  • 46% care for 90 or more hours every week, while 17% care for 50–89 hours, 23% care for 20–49 hours and 13% care for 1–19 hours a week.

  • Most (74%) care for one person, 20% care for two people, 5% for three people and 2% care for four or more people.

These figures are staggering and we know from these kind of surveys this grim picture will be very much the same here in West Sussex.  I will be working with the team to make sure that we continue and grow this charity team that works so hard to reach out to people.

To those of you that I have met thank you for your warm welcome and to those of you I have not, I would love to hear from you, invite me to your group or just contact me and let’s have a cup of tea.

One final message from me we know how hard it can be to accept that we are a carer and that we need help.  If you know of someone who might benefit from a conversation with one of our expert team members, please get them to give us a call – it could really help change their lives.

Sonia Mangan, Chief Executive