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Who Cares? We all can…

Anita Goyal MBE, Trustee, Hallmark Care Homes Foundation

Anita Goyal MBE, Trustee, Hallmark Care Homes Foundation

As a former teacher married to a care provider, I have long thought that we should do more to bring the worlds of care and education closer together – not least to encourage young people to think about the wide variety and growing number of opportunities to work in care.

To meet the care needs of our ageing population, we need to increase the care workforce by 500,000 people over the coming decade. Many of those people are currently in education.

For several years, our family foundation, the Hemraj Goyal Foundation, has been running free workshops in schools serving disadvantaged communities to promote positive mindsets and life skills with students.

So it was a natural development to look at how we can attract more young people to consider working in care. That came to a head on 7 March 2023 when the Hallmark Foundation and its partners ran the first national care careers conference for school and college students.

The conference in London was attended by hundreds of young people and thousands more joined online, via livestreaming and recordings of the event. We had fantastic feedback on the day and ever since. This includes many requests to run similar events across the UK and to make the resources more widely available – see below.

The aim of the March conference was to reach students in years 9-13 (aged 14-18) in schools and colleges and get them to think early about the opportunities in the care world – from frontline caring and nursing to management, IT and finance to HR and PR, hospitality to gardening and maintenance. You name it, you can do it.

We invited a wide range of speakers. Some were headliners like Ed Balls, broadcaster, writer and former politician; chief nurse for adult social care at the Department of Health and Social Care, Deborah Sturdy; Nye Brown, Managing Director of Hallmark Care Homes; and Labour’s shadow care minister Liz Kendall MP. Other presentations were interactive – including the UK’s fastest growing inspirational speaker, Jermaine Harris, and a special drama production on what makes a good carer by UpFront Theatre.

It was a pleasure to chair the event with my husband Avnish Goyal, chair of the Hallmark Foundation. The highlight for many was a panel of four younger Hallmark Care Homes team members who talked about their journey into care and career development. When asked what key values are needed to work in care, they said: “Kindness, courage, dedication, quality, individuality and dignity.”

Ed Balls discussed his experience working with a care home and a home care company for a BBC documentary. Talking about the critical role care plays in all our lives, he told students: “We need to do better as a society to support the way we provide and support careers in care. This is a sector that will grow and the demand for people will increase. The only way is up and we will only continue to value the work social care workers do. If you’re thinking of a career with prospects, care is one where your value will be increasing significantly over the next 5-20 years.”

The Who Cares? conference was promoted widely to schools by our delivery partner, the national charity Working Options in Education. As well as financial support from Hallmark Foundation, the event would not have been possible without sponsors Advinia Care, Precious Homes, Regent Group, Sahara Care and Hemraj Goyal Foundation, together with a wide range of exhibitors.

We all know young people among our families, friends and communities who might be interested in working in care. Together we can reach out to them while they are thinking about their lives and meaningful jobs. We are seeking partners to run similar events with us across the UK.

Kirsty

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