Life at Aviva

Our carers community: compassionate, caring and resilient

Listen in as Martin, Natalie and Kofi share their stories of why Aviva Carers is so important, and why the community means so much to them.

Adult and child holding hands

It's Carers Week in the UK from 6-12 June.

It's the one week of the year where people come together to raise awareness of caring, to highlight the challenges that unpaid carers face, and to recognise the contributions that carers make to their families and to their communities.

Given that this year's theme for Carers Week is 'visible, valued and supported', it felt right that we do what we can to give some of that visibility to our own carers community: Aviva Carers.

It's why we spent some time talking to Martin, one of our executive sponsors of the community, about why this group of people is so important to him personally, but also to Aviva generally.

Martin O'Malley
Martin O'Malley, Group Chief Audit Officer, and carers community executive sponsor

We spoke to Natalie, one of our Aviva Carers co-chairs, about what kinds of things the community does for our carers at Aviva and why she gives so much of her time outside of her day job to help make that happen. 

Finally, we spoke to Kofi, one of our carers at Aviva, to hear about his own experiences caring, loss, and why the carers community matters so much to him.

Kofi sitting in reception in our London office
Kofi, Customer Service Consultant and member of our carers community

Listen to the Aviva Carers episode of the Aviva Podcast

A picture of Kofi
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... So we went there with an ill Nan, and we came out with a getting-better Nan but also a home-care kit...

Kofi

Member of Aviva Carers

00:00:04:21 - 00:00:25:24 Sam

Hello and welcome to the Aviva Podcast. It's the podcast that we make for our people, but we let anyone else listen in if they want to. So if that's you, welcome! You're joining for a good one. And I hope you stick around until the end because there's some powerful stuff coming later on. But later on is for later on.

00:00:26:03 - 00:00:46:12 Sam 

For now, let's come back to the present, because by the time this episode comes out, it'll be Carers Week in the UK. It's the one week of the year where people come together to raise awareness of caring, to highlight the challenges that unpaid carers face, and to recognize the contributions that carers make to their families and to their communities.

00:00:48:03 - 00:01:18:01 Sam 

Given that this year's theme for Carers Week is visible, valued and supported, it felt right that we do what we can to give some of that visibility to our own carers community in Aviva. To show that carers in Aviva - that you - are valued and that there's support there if it's needed. So that's why we spent some time talking to Martin, one of our executive sponsors of the carers community, about why this group of people is so important to him personally, but also to Aviva generally.

00:01:19:09 - 00:01:41:00 Sam

We spoke to Natalie, one of our carers community co-chairs, about what kinds of things the community does for our carers at Aviva and why she gives so much of her time outside of her day job to help make that happen. And we spoke to Kofi, one of our carers at Aviva, to hear about his experiences caring and why he thinks the carers community Aviva is so valuable.

00:01:41:17 - 00:02:13:27 Sam

We'll meet with Natalie and Kofi later in the episode, but for now let's introduce you to Martin. Martin O'Malley is our group chief audit officer. He sits on Aviva's group executive committee, and he's responsible for the management of our global internal audit function. Alongside that though, Martin is also the executive sponsor for the carers community. And he was kind enough to find some time in his busy diary to sit down with us and explain what being an executive sponsor means and why the carers community means so much to him.

00:02:14:09 - 00:02:20:03 Sam

Hi Martin, thanks for joining us. Just to kick us off, could you tell us what your role is in the carers community?

00:02:20:05 - 00:02:46:10 Martin

So pretty much since I started I've been a sponsor, so it's the first community that I selected to sponsor And for me personally it's just really important. I find carers are the unsung heroes of communities of the country. Sometimes carers don't even know that they are carers. They take absorb a lot of strain. They're really critical in the roles that they play.

00:02:46:17 - 00:03:07:29 Martin

They play multiple roles and personally my wife has played it quite recently. Looking after her Dad who is suffering from two forms of cancer, which is at quite a progressed stage. And I think all of us at some stage in our lives are likely to be either carers or cared for. And so it's just a really important role that we play in life.

00:03:08:00 - 00:03:11:26 Sam

And so what does an executive sponsor do? Can you give an example?

00:03:11:29 - 00:03:47:02 Martin

Yeah, well we meet with the champions and the leaders of the carers SteerCo committees that run the initiatives across the Aviva group and there's various activities that they do, lots of it culminating in Carers Week, so a culmination of a lot of activity to focus on particular things that might be of help or interest to carers. And as a sponsor myself and Adam Winslow who is also co-sponsor, we try to help with the ideas.

00:03:47:14 - 00:04:16:10 Martin

We definitely support the initiatives that are going on and try to keep people motivated and focused on that because it is hard and a lot of people are doing this on the back of very busy day jobs and we also try to help with some direction. I'm very much focused on data because once you know your carers population you can then start to find better ways of helping them and reaching out to them.

00:04:16:11 - 00:04:39:09 Martin

So personally I've spent a lot of time working with the leaders in the carers community to find ways in which we can encourage people to tell us about their situation. And so we can find ways like the carers policy that we can reach out to them and make people aware of the things that can help them and support them during some critical periods.

00:04:39:10 - 00:04:53:07 Sam

So you used the word earlier and I think you're right that carers is probably one of the more unsung groups when it comes to inclusion And it feels like Aviva really stands out by having a carers community. Why is supporting this group so important to Aviva as a business?

00:04:53:08 - 00:05:15:29 Martin

Yeah, that's a really good question. And I think you're right that I think we are a standout company in terms of supporting that population. It's evident that carers make up a large part of our workforce. There have been so many carers that have been grateful to Aviva for some of the things and the support that have been provided, particularly during tough times.

00:05:16:04 - 00:05:47:16 Martin

And as we move to strive towards a more diverse and inclusive workforce and more representative of the customers that we serve, I think it's really important that we continue that. And this is another facet of diversity in my view. Where there is a group of people that are doing a very important role for their families, for their friends, for their communities, they play a vital role in the workforce for Aviva and for our customers.

00:05:47:22 - 00:06:02:20 Martin

You know, it's just something that we need to do to help them. I really do feel the stress sometimes that they carry. And so yeah, I think it's great that Aviva have taken a leading position in this and I think we will continue to do so.

00:06:02:23 - 00:06:06:08 Sam

What are your top three hopes for the carers community?

00:06:06:12 - 00:06:49:07 Martin

Number one, I think accreditation, greater recognition nationally in terms of some of the things that we have achieved. Number two, I think we're trying to increase the population of people that we can help. I think there's more carers out there that don't fully appreciate that and probably are not necessarily aware of the support that can be provided. And number three, I think more broadly I think it will be good if carers and non carers talk about this more because when you shine a light on something, I think it just helps with working through the stress of caring for people and trying to manage multiple things in your life, including your job.

00:06:49:08 - 00:06:51:20 Martin

So those are really my top three.

00:06:51:23 - 00:06:57:19 Sam

Is there anything that Aviva does right now that stands out and makes you think we're doing right by this group of people?

00:06:57:21 - 00:07:30:09 Martin

You know, having it as a community is probably the number one stand out for me, and from that it prompts a number of initiatives and activities and from that has come the policies that we have to support carers. We have the carers week which is going to be fantastic and I've had a quick look at the agenda for the week and I think it's going to be very helpful for a number of people and is delving into some of the mental health aspects of, of caring as well, which is, which is fantastic.

00:07:30:20 - 00:07:44:21 Martin

The thing that stands out for me is that we actually have the community, you know, giving it that label and giving it a cohort brand I think is what helps the most. It's actually identifying it as a population that we need to look after.

00:07:45:00 - 00:07:56:27 Sam

So that was Martin O'Malley, one of our executive sponsors of the carers community. Now though, we're going to head over to talk to Natalie, one of our co-chairs of the community, to find out a little more about what that means and what it involves.

00:07:57:08 - 00:08:21:14 Natalie

I'm Natalie. I currently work in GI (General Insurance) as a business improvement consultant and just started a new role looking after Aviva Zero which is really exciting. So I am one of the co-chairs of the carers community. Relatively new to this role too and I have been working with carers actually since last year to help them plan and work with them to help communicate some of their activity.

00:08:21:16 - 00:08:29:11 Sam

Thanks, Natalie. I can't think of anyone better to ask: what is the carers community's purpose? What's the community for?

00:08:29:11 - 00:08:54:23 Natalie

So the main purpose is to be there for our colleagues who have caring responsibilities, however broad they may be, to enable them to have the right conversations with their leaders, to have more flexibility around their working patterns. We have opportunities for them to use something called the workplace adjustment, which enables them to tweak their hours so that they can meet those responsibilities that they have outside of work.

00:08:54:23 - 00:09:14:03 Natalie

So, for example, if they’re caring for an elderly relative and they may need to see to that at start of the end of the day, we can look to flex that to allow them to do that. But we try to make it clear that many of us do have caring responsibilities. So, for example, we're very much focused around parents and helping them to recognise their role as a carer as well as a parent.

00:09:14:05 - 00:09:16:16 Sam

And what does a co-chair of a community do?

00:09:16:25 - 00:09:46:13 Natalie

That basically we have a SteerCo of great volunteers and we're there to coordinate events across the community and share it out wider across the organisation, which is specifically aimed at our carers. And we also work collaboratively across other organisations with their carers communities. And we will feed into the wider diversity and inclusion work that we do within Aviva to share the events that we're doing and work with the other communities as well, because there's quite a lot of overlap, for example, with AvivAbility.

00:09:46:21 - 00:10:11:17 Natalie

So we like to share in the events that we do and think of innovative ways that we can get the message out there, make sure that our people are aware of what's available to them because a lot of people aren't aware and it's a really fantastic company to work for when it comes to looking after our carers and recognising that they make a fantastic contribution to work, but they still need to be able to be available for the people that they're caring for.

00:10:11:23 - 00:10:13:19 Sam

So what's keeping you busy at the moment?

00:10:13:21 - 00:10:36:16 Natalie

Well, it is a really busy time, exceptionally busy. So on the 6th of June is National Carers Week so we have co-ordinated a week of events. We have also shared with some of our external partners and each day there will be an event which is targeting different elements of caring. Our focus for this is very much around the parenting and caring approach.

00:10:36:25 - 00:11:09:00 Natalie

So trying to draw in on parents experiences as well. So for example, we have an event specifically for parents who are also carers for children and young adults with eating disorders and that's a really difficult conversation to have and we have pulled in the support from AvivAbility for this. And the idea is we can help people to recognise not just how they care for somebody in that situation, but also how they can recognise the signs and help signpost them to the right place.

00:11:09:01 - 00:11:32:21 Natalie

We have an event which we've linked in with our external carers, so with HSBC, Sainsbury's and National Highways and we are holding an event on sleep deprivation which might sound a little bit out there for carers, but the focus is around many people with caring responsibilities. Actually are often looking after people in their home who have poor sleep.

00:11:33:20 - 00:11:50:29 Natalie

So for example, Alzheimer's children with additional needs for example, autism, they don't have regular sleep patterns and if you're a carer for one of those people, it can really impact your wellbeing because you're not getting the right level of sleep. So this is a fantastic event to help support those.

00:11:51:05 - 00:12:03:02 Sam

So honestly that sounds like an unbelievable amount of work and it's not your day job. So what's the reason that you wanted to make a difference for the carers community? Can you share what made you want to become a co-chair?

00:12:03:09 - 00:12:32:24 Natalie

I think in some ways I fell into it because I was already working with carers to help them with their communication and look at different ideas, I became quite passionate about the fact that it was such a great offering out there. And so few people were tapping into it and so few people even recognised themselves as being a carer or think, well that's just my lot, you know, I've got to do this, I'll make it work when they don't have to struggle.

00:12:32:29 - 00:13:01:19 Natalie

There’s ways we can support them and make life easier and just being able to share all of that and listening to other people's experiences. And I've learned so much in just a few months from conversations with different people, and the way that they have to care for others and how it can impact them. And also when I talk to other leaders and they say, Oh, I didn't even know that I could offer my team that support, how do I do it and what does it mean?

00:13:02:02 - 00:13:03:23 Natalie

So it's just about spreading the word.

00:13:04:03 - 00:13:10:22 Sam

So if everything that you and the carers community have done is there anything that really stands out that you are particularly proud of?

00:13:11:01 - 00:13:39:08 Natalie

I would say and I, I can't actually take all the credit for it at all. Last year we decided we wanted to kind of raise awareness and  back in November last year when we had Carers Rights Day and again celebrated with a week of events that we wanted to be a little bit different from the other communities and we set about creating a short video, just getting some of the carers we knew in the organisation to share their stories.

00:13:39:09 - 00:14:03:09 Natalie

We did it in a really short timescale. I really don't quite know how it happened thanks to some fantastic support and the film crew who got involved and we pulled it off and we got it on social media and I think that's the thing that myself and the rest of the community are proud of because it stands out as something that we can share over and over again and it really gets the message out there of what carers does.

00:14:03:11 - 00:14:07:21 Sam

Is there anything you wish that Aviva could do better when it comes to supporting carers?

00:14:07:23 - 00:14:25:25 Natalie

My point of view, I think we do a really great job. I think perhaps a little bit more clarity when it comes to supporting parents. I know there's a big focus on parents who are returning from parental leave. There's a sense that they perhaps don't always get the support that they perhaps need, especially as a first time parent.

00:14:25:25 - 00:14:55:10 Natalie

They may, may not feel that they have such a obvious career progression. They may have had to tweak the hours to adjust for childcare So I think, yeah, perhaps a slight change of focus. So there's more awareness that caring isn't just about caring for an elderly relative. It's much bigger than that. And so many people just are almost unnoticed and unheard because they don't necessarily feel that they have a community but this is what we're here for.

00:14:55:10 - 00:15:11:09 Natalie

We're here to give them the opportunity to chat, to like minded people in the same situation where they can share experiences and even just have a bit of a vent, just say, I've had a really bad week, this has happened, but don't know where to turn to. And I think that really helps people.

00:15:11:12 - 00:15:18:03 Sam

I think you've kind of touched on it, but what's the one message that you would like to get out there to carers, whether they're in Aviva or not?

00:15:18:10 - 00:15:35:08 Natalie

I think the one message for me would be Don't be afraid to ask, don't sit back and think you've got to put up with what you're putting up with. There's loads of people out there to help you and the more you realise that and chat to people and go, Oh, I didn't, I didn't realise you had the same situation as me.

00:15:35:18 - 00:15:43:11 Natalie

I think that's the main thing. And I think make sure that leaders are educated as well around what supports available for their teams.

00:15:43:14 - 00:15:58:00 Sam

So that was Natalie, one of our community co-chairs, and we're going to hear a little bit extra from both Natalie and Martin before the end. But now it's time to talk to Kofi. Kofi is a member of the carers community and well, I'll let Kofi introduce himself.

00:15:58:14 - 00:16:20:23 Kofi

So yeah, my name is Kofi, I'm 27, I'm a Gemini, its Gemini season as well. So yeah, I'm kind of in the element at the moment. I'm one of 20 plus siblings, which is an interesting fact. People are sometimes surprised about that. I’ve worked at Aviva for just over three years now in the Pensions Department. I'm the person our customers talk to on a firsthand basis.

00:16:20:23 - 00:16:28:19 Kofi

We speak with our employers with employees, with our FA, very varied and every day is a school day essentialy.

00:16:28:24 - 00:16:35:02 Sam

Thanks, Kofi. Would you mind sharing a little bit about what brought you to the carers community? Why is it important to you?

00:16:35:10 - 00:17:01:28 Kofi

I was big in the D&I space, and especially since BLM and my leader at the time mentioned the different communities that I've represented, which I didn't really have any sight on, to be honest with the role that I do, I could aligned with several of the communities as well, but the carers community was the most profound, the most kind of emotional connection with it simply because of what I was doing outside of work.

00:17:02:08 - 00:17:05:27 Sam

If you are comfortable with it, would you mind sharing what that situation was?

00:17:06:02 - 00:17:27:08 Kofi

So my Nan took sick initially about six years ago, she was just very wary and just drowsy and she's always been quite an active person. She just lost a lot of weight. So we took her to the hospital and it turned out that her diabetes, it got quite bad so her blood sugar just kind of rocketed and they were struggling to get it back down.

00:17:27:08 - 00:17:47:21 Kofi

And we had a conversation with the doctors at the time to say that you know, she's at this age, you kind of would expect that natural decline and it was kind of just that conversation of OK, she's kind of reaching the end of her life, which was gutted about but we understood. Essentially, she had good innings.

00:17:47:21 - 00:18:12:11 Kofi

While I was there as well they gave us a home care kit to treat her diabetes. So we went there with a ill nan and we came out with a getting better nan. With also a homecare kit, which had a diabetic needle, it had a blood sugar checker, it had all kind of insulin and medication and stuff, which was a bit daunting. But, you know, they showed us how to do it.

00:18:12:11 - 00:18:34:05 Kofi

So when we got back and we went through kind of all of that home care and I learned how to stick needles in her stomach to inject insulin, also to check her and blood sugar levels each day, we noticed that her memory and just her mental health was just on the decline. She was just a bit confused, a bit delirious, and it progressed slowly.

00:18:34:05 - 00:18:56:01 Kofi

At first. It kind of started by not seeing signs of just losing things or not cooking the way that she used to cook. And then it materialised into kind of extreme mood changes and sometimes just not being as mobile as she generally was. So we had assessments and she did get the diagnosis of dementia throughout the years.

00:18:56:08 - 00:19:16:10 Kofi

It obviously got worse. It's debilitating and it's something that it's not nice to witness. But we managed it. We kept her at home as well. We didn't want her in a care home just because we liked that proximity. And even though she didn't recognise the house that she'd been in for sixty plus years, it was nice that she was in familiar surroundings and with familiar people.

00:19:16:10 - 00:19:55:06 Kofi

Ultimately, that was something that was very important to me. And I suppose about three years into that with my Nana, my granddad started getting sick with kind of prostate issues and because of those prostate issues, you have to have a catheter in. Again, he was a very active person, so that kind of hit him quite hard that he couldn't do all the things that he used to be able to do and he struggled immensely with the fact that his wife had this dementia diagnosis and she didn't always recognise him and they couldn't have the conversations and the banter to that they used to have and that hit him quite hard.

00:19:55:06 - 00:20:22:17 Kofi

And that caused them to have depression and severe depression to kind of comprehend all of the changes that was going on. It really struggles to watch that. That had a massive impact on my grandad towards the end of his life, if you like. When his depression got quite bad, he stopped eating and he stopped taking his medication and COVID hit, which was kind of the worst timing for us all and for him and ended up catching COVID and that's ultimately what took him really.

00:20:22:17 - 00:20:40:18 Kofi

And at those times that's something that you couldn’t visit people. So I was the only person that was able to visit essentially, which was obviously tough being in a covid ward and it was just him and me. But you just do what you can. He, he passed and it wasn't a passing in that that he deserved, really.

00:20:41:13 - 00:21:07:05 Kofi

COVID it wasn’t nice to witness and also being on my own and doing that with him was something that is quite hard hitting. But yeah, I got through it and I had to kind of just do a quick turn around and still look after my nan ultimately as soon as that all happened and she definitely noticed my granddad not being there, even if she wasn't able to articulate it in the best way, she would forever call his name out.

00:21:07:08 - 00:21:32:22 Kofi

She would forever call his name out. At the start it was his name George. Then it was my husband, then it was that gentleman, then it was that person. So it slowly slowly disappeared. But she always had an inkling that there was somebody missing. And throughout COVID kind of easing and regulations going my nanas dementia, just naturally declined. And she was a fighter.

00:21:33:01 - 00:22:00:07 Kofi

She was the matriarch of the of the house. And when she passed it was just me and her and they passed in quite close proximity, about eighteen months within each other. The hardest part of that whole caring journey for me was probably the end of life care for so many reasons, whether it's COVID, whether it was being on my own whether it was the guilt after, knowing if you did the right thing, said the right thing thought the right thing.

00:22:00:14 - 00:22:25:22 Kofi

That's something that is quite hard hitting and sticks with you massively but I'm at the other side of it now, I suppose, and it's all about kind of remembering those great moments and looking back at those pictures and videos just cherishing all of the special and great moments that I had with him really. So that's what I do on a, on a daily and yeah, that brings me some kind of joy.

00:22:25:22 - 00:22:47:06 Kofi

While  I'm just piecing my life and my time back together. The community was a massive help at that time, as well as just Aviva's whole kind of compassionate leave and policy. And my leader and my leaders, leader just understanding what my needs were at that time. So I was very open and honest and just candid about the whole situation, which is important in itself.

00:22:47:06 - 00:23:20:15 Kofi

And I think because I had that open dialog and because I was so comfortable having that conversation with the culture that, we've managed to build, I suppose in the past year, that helped massively in terms of me being able to do everything that I needed to do in that stage of things. So yeah, I'm very thankful for the carers community as well as Aviva and the whole leave policy that they've got because it could have been a situation that was that could have played out completely differently that could have been a lot of hurdles and walls up.

00:23:20:15 - 00:23:41:14 Kofi

But if anything they rolled out the red carpet and there was, there was very flexible and it was very kind of compassionate with the whole situation. So yeah, I'll be forever grateful and hopefully it's something that I don't have to go through again, but if I do, I'll be very confident and comfortable with the fact that there won't really be any issues.

00:23:41:15 - 00:23:59:02 Sam

Hey, it's me in the future in the editing room right now. I just wanted to take a moment aside to thank Kofi for sharing so openly there. I said it at the time, but it's struck me again just now while listening back. So I'm just going to stop for a second here and say thank you again, Kofi, for sharing your story.

00:23:59:11 - 00:24:03:05 Sam

I didn't want to breeze past it into the next question, but speaking of which.

00:24:05:28 - 00:24:16:01 Kofi

Hopefully it's something that I don't have to go through again. But if I do, I'll be very confident, confident and comfortable with the fact that there won't really be any issues.

00:24:16:01 - 00:24:23:20 Sam

So could you tell me a little bit about how the community works? So do you share stories or advice with each other? How does it all work?

00:24:23:23 - 00:24:49:14 Kofi

I was a bit confused how it would work myself to be honest. I mean, generally because community or the word community can be for an about a bit loose. They can be a bit hierarchal and unbalanced, but we collaborate really well, to be honest. There’s a wide range of people within our community who have different caring and experiences, and they're also scattered around the business as well.

00:24:49:14 - 00:25:11:21 Kofi

So that helps with kind of range and reach. So it's not just about sharing stories with each other but its elevating in each Other and our stories and also mapping out checkpoint dates throughout the year as well so that we can capitalise really on bringing awareness to the community and what we're trying to do and really being ambassadors about that.

00:25:11:28 - 00:25:33:16 Kofi

We're also constantly coming up with fresh ideas to bring carers to the forefront and I can’t lie we are a little thin on the ground, but the team is made up of some amazing people, some real powerhouses. I've learned a lot in from my time with them. So yeah, so forever growing and forever learning and it's been really good so far.

00:25:33:28 - 00:25:36:08 Sam

Do you want to namedrop any of those powerhouses?

00:25:36:21 - 00:26:00:26 Kofi

So Lee Innes I’ve got to give him a massive shout out he is just a fountain of knowledge. He was very welcoming with me and Molly Howes is just wicked as well. She is when I say powerhouse she's an absolute powerhouse. She puts together all kinds of things just on a whim, so eloquent and articulate. I'm generally just a bit buzzed eyed whenever she says words of a three syllables, but she does it with ease.

00:26:01:09 - 00:26:16:22 Kofi

And Natalie Lee as well, who you spoke with, she's a wicked individual and I just love the meetings that we have. I learn so much. I never come away from a meeting, feeling deflated or anything. It's more so I feel energised. So it's, yeah, it's a really good team and I really enjoy spending time with them all.

00:26:16:22 - 00:26:21:24 Sam

Is there anything in particular that stands out as something you think the community has done really well?

00:26:21:25 - 00:26:43:17 Kofi

I don't want to be sat under the fence here, but I feel like everything we do and everything we've put out has been equally impactful if you are to ask me. There's some things that will of course resonate with more people and hence make it a bit more and popularity. But numbers don't really equate to importance if you're liking.

00:26:43:22 - 00:27:12:27 Kofi

And one thing I suppose that does fall into the front for me is the deeper understanding of the carers policy that Aviva have. It's helped me tenfold to be honest, and it really reinforces kind of individual circumstances. It's not a kind of necessarily one size fits all. It is kind of malleable. I've advised of the people of the policy, how it works, and I know that they have gone on to use it and speak to their managers about it as well.

00:27:12:27 - 00:27:35:10 Kofi

So it's a huge bonus in terms of having that insight from a different angle of the business because I've never been exposed to that, that kind of thing before ever. It's just really been kind of speaking to customers on the phone but I suppose I've got that kind of background knowledge now, which is, which is very helpful and it allows me to share that with some of my localised team.

00:27:35:19 - 00:27:38:25 Sam

And do you have a message to other carers out there who might be listening?

00:27:38:27 - 00:28:03:27 Kofi

First and foremost, if you're listening and you're wondering if you're a carer, you probably are in some kind of capacity I'd say look after yourself as best as you can as only your the best self can give your best self and as hard as it can be sometimes just hold on to the good moments and sometimes a very volatile environment depending on your individual circumstances as well.

00:28:04:28 - 00:28:27:10 Kofi

Know yourself outside of that carer role. Don’t let it cloud your goals and perspectives or opportunities or anything that you that you might have yourself and take plenty of videos and snap some pictures and make the most memories because at some stages it's all we're left with and you can really look back on that and kind of cherish it forever.

00:28:27:20 - 00:28:33:21 Sam

Is there anything that you think Aviva does well right now in supporting you and the other members of the carers community?

00:28:33:23 - 00:28:59:27 Kofi

So well, Aviva massive. So we've got a whole budget which allows us to plan out and put events together. We've got scope really to do and share whatever we like within reason on so many different platforms, whether it's Yammer, whether it's teams or bits via email. We all know Aviva’s huge, but the fact that the intersectionality I suppose between all the communities is pretty frictionless  that says a lot as well.

00:28:59:27 - 00:29:20:05 Kofi

So that kind of proves that behind the scenes that they do really work hard to make sure that each of those communities are really supported and really have that time of day. So Aviva do really well in giving us that platform and really allowing the carers community to be its own entity. Carers aren’t anything that people really speak about.

00:29:20:05 - 00:29:36:27 Kofi

If you're not directly aligned with anybody, that's being a carer or if you don't look after somebody yourself. So it's just bringing a bit of noise to something that is a bit underrated if you like. So Aviva, do really good and making a bit of noise that underrepresented.

00:29:36:27 - 00:29:40:15 Sam

Always room for improvement, right? So where would you like to see us improve?

00:29:40:19 - 00:30:03:06 Kofi

So I mentioned kind of being a bit light on the ground. So carers is a very small pot of people, but it's a bit of an umbrella term which does encompass people that might not consider themselves carers. I suppose so I think maybe clearer comms around carers as well as including parents as well that we've got some so many amazing families here at Aviva.

00:30:03:06 - 00:30:28:24 Kofi

We see little snippets of those on Yammer or wherever it may be with people sharing their personal stories and whether it's pre-conceived rhetoric, parents aren’t carers, I'd love to sway that a bit and just create this army of carers/parents that just unite and educate and can join forces and really kind of support each other and put out the most content that we possibly could.

00:30:28:29 - 00:30:49:09 Kofi

It's not one dimensional at all as there's so many things that being a carer encompasses and parents do an amazing job and it's something that would definitely improve. I suppose the community if they were to join forces with us as well. So yeah, it would be really good to join forces like I said, and hopefully collaborate in some way in the future.

00:30:49:18 - 00:30:56:09 Sam

And last question, what's the one thing that you wish more people understood about being a carer?

00:30:56:13 - 00:31:34:26 Kofi

I suppose it does kind of latch onto to what I previously said, but it's not one dimensional. Again, it is sometimes something that is temporary, sometimes it's something that people do for all of their lives. Sometimes it can be an intermittent responsibility, you can be part of any cohort and be a carer. One main thing I wish people understood is that it definitely sticks with you and what I mean by that is that it's not easy and plain sailing in all circumstances, which calls for a bit of patience sometimes as you can be exposed daily to things that can be quite extreme.

00:31:34:26 - 00:31:54:03 Kofi

So yeah, it's not always that simple cup of tea and a chat on a Saturday or anything. It can entail and for the most part it does entail a lot more. So yeah, it's just that understanding that it's not that happy dappy rainbow marshmallow kind of environment. It can be a lot more that comes under that carer bracket I suppose.

00:31:54:03 - 00:31:54:23 Sam

I actually fibbed about that being the last question I asked Kofi Martin and Natalie all the same question at the end of our interviews, and that was can you give me one word that describes the carers community for you?

00:31:55:07 - 00:32:06:26 Martin

Compassionate

00:32:07:14 - 00:32:14:25 Natalie

Think I'm going to have to go really obvious with this, but I think it's got to be caring because what else could it be?

00:32:15:09 - 00:32:23:12 Kofi

Resilient resilience, my word. I suppose I'll just say that and I wouldn't really need to elaborate much. So resilient and I’ll drop the mic on that.

00:32:23:15 - 00:32:40:16 Sam

And what better place to close them with then with a mic drop. I just want to take a moment to thank all three of my guests Martin, Natalie and Kofi and an extra moment to thank you for listening. If you want to find out more about Carers Week and you're an Aviva employee, then check out Aviva World or the Carers Community Yammer Group.

00:32:41:08 - 00:32:44:27 Sam

If you're not an Aviva employee, you can check out our show notes on Aviva.com.

Further information

More about our Communities at Aviva

Carers Week website

Martin O'Malley's executive profile

Meet Kofi

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