Unpaid carers in London are to be helped back into work thanks to a new £2m grant.

The award had been made under the Building Better Opportunities programme, which sees the Big Lottery Fund matching funds from the European Social Fund to invest in local projects tackling the root causes of poverty.

Carers Trust, the largest charity for carers, has been awarded funding to help some of the capital's 689,000 unpaid carers to retain their jobs or return to work after caring for a sick or disabled family member or friend.

The charity will work with its London network of local carers services to set up Working for Carers, which will provide carers with their own individual plans and will include one-to-one support, a bespoke employment training programme and peer support.

A survey carried out by Carers Trust and its network showed that 68% of carers in London were unemployed. The main barriers to finding and keeping employment were the pressure of their caring role (68%) and the need for part-time or flexible hours (57%).

One carer said: "Most [employers] insists that I work full time.  When I mention part-time, they never get back to me."

Lydie Saint-Marc, Deputy Director of Fundraising for Carers Trust, said:

"Working for Carers will provide a major boost for the capital's unpaid carers whose working lives have been significantly affected by their caring role. Some have struggled to hold onto their jobs, while others haven't worked for years because they have been caring for someone in their family or a friend."

She added:

"There are so many services aimed at people who are not working, but none of these address the particular issues faced by carers and therefore don't meet their need to be more flexible and for a level of understanding amongst employers.

"We have listened to carers who have asked us to develop a programme that takes into account their needs and the challenges they face to access, return or stay in employment."

Lyn Cole, England grant making director at the Big Lottery Fund said:

"The Building Better Opportunities programme not only enables people to improve their employment prospects, but their self-confidence too.

"Each project is specifically designed to match the needs and ambitions of local communities, providing tailored support that helps people achieve their goals."

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