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  • Writer's pictureAndy Parkinson

Return to Work / Carers into Work: supporting unpaid carers back into work

Woman of South Asian descent, wearing a pink t-shirt holding a paper folder. She has a big lovely smile and is walking down a corridor

The Return-to-Work / Carers into Work project was an initiative to provide focused support for individuals re-entering the labour market after caregiving breaks. The aim was to provide tailored assistance to unpaid carers transitioning back into paid, sustainable employment. Funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority, it aligned with the North of Tyne Devolution deal, which aims to foster an inclusive and thriving economy.


The project's delivery adopted a 'test and learn' approach, allowing project staff and the Steering Group to utilise and reflect on real-time data. This method enabled in-flight adjustments to improve the model and delivery methods, enhancing overall performance and facilitating ongoing learning.  The project aimed to support residents, targeting unpaid carers disengaged from the labour market, by offering inclusive pathways to work such as internships and work experience with training.


Three local carer organisations; Carers Northumberland, North Tyneside Carers’ Centre, and Newcastle Carers, were instrumental in delivering the project. These organisations are well-positioned to support carers in the North of Tyne area playing an important role in providing carers with specialist, wrap-around support. They also leveraged their existing connections with relevant services including local authority adult services and social care teams. Their deep understanding of the unique barriers carers face in the labour market sets them apart from standard employability providers.


Wavehill's evaluation involved comprehensive interviews with Advisors from the three organisations; strategic stakeholders within the Combined Authority; and consultations with carers supported by the project. This holistic evaluation captured the project's impact and effectiveness, ensuring that lessons learned could inform future initiatives.


Our work has helped to shape a new programme of support for carers looking to move into work. This new programme, entitled Working for Carers, is funded with investment from UKSPF, and contributes significantly to the inclusive economy objectives for the Northeast. It addresses the specific needs of unpaid carers to create more accessible and inclusive employment opportunities. This evaluation builds on our portfolio of work assessing programmes focused on supporting unpaid carers into work, including our recent evaluation of the Working for Carers programme for Carers Trust.

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