Hazel Brown awarded MBE for services to carers
Carers Trust is thrilled with the news that Hazel Brown, Head of Communities at Liverpool Carers Centre, Local Solutions (a Carers Trust Network Partner), has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to carers.
“When I first read the email from the Cabinet Office saying I had been awarded an MBE, I assumed it must be one of those spam emails you get from time to time”, admits Hazel Brown when asked how she heard the news. “Even two weeks later I went out to buy The Times to check my name really was on the list before I told anyone about it.”
It’s fair to say that the last thing Hazel Brown was expecting was an MBE. But after just five minutes speaking to her, it’s easy to see why she was put forward.
The 57 year old who grew up in the west of Scotland was a young carer herself before anyone really knew what a young carer was. And since completing her Duke of Edinburgh Award she has always known that she wanted her career to be about helping improve the lives of the disadvantaged and vulnerable.
That work started long before she had finished her studies. She threw herself into community work and homelessness projects while studying for her first degree at Strathclyde University, and carried on while completing her Masters in Public Administration. That was back in the 1980s. She joined Local Solutions in 1997, and as part of her work there has been Head of Carers/Communities at Liverpool Carers Centre for the last 15 years.
“I’ve wanted to work with people ever since I can remember,” she says. “And I consider it a huge privilege that carers allow me to come into their lives. So wanting to support them in whatever way I can feels the most natural thing in the world.”
And if pressed to highlight just one thing from her career supporting unpaid carers, what would that be?
“I distinctly remember Her Royal Highness Princess Anne visiting Liverpool Carers Centre and we chatted about the absolute importance of unpaid carers having a break and some respite from their caring role. That got me thinking about what we could do that would really make a difference for carers.”
The result was the My Time project, a pioneering scheme developed by Hazel. The project partners with sixty local businesses across Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire to provide respite opportunities for carers in need of a break. It could be a restaurant meal, an overnight stay in a hotel, afternoon tea or a trip to the gym, theatre or cinema.
The project has really caught on, providing much-needed breaks to worn out carers. So much so, in fact, that it was recognised by The Observer newspaper which in 2018 made Hazel one of its fifty ‘New Radical’ entrepreneurs across the UK.
It’s quite an achievement to look back on as she reflects on the MBE and her upcoming trip to Buckingham Palace.
"It will be so nice to go down for the ceremony, and I’m really looking forward to the whole day. This award isn’t really about me. It’s about highlighting what it is that unpaid carers do, why they matter and about everything they do to look after the vulnerable.”