Here, we chat with Jenny to celebrate her time at Care for the Carers.

After 12 years as Chair of Trustees, Jenny Ballard stepped down from her role in September 2018, but continues to serve carers on our Board of Trustees, now chaired by Chris Raper.

How has Care for the Carers changed during your time as Chair of Trustees?

I never envisaged being a Trustee of the charity! I joined as an employee about six months into the organisation’s formation in 1989. It’s seen quite a transformation. I was originally admin support for one of the development workers, and then took on different roles including helping to develop the Carers Card. I worked in various roles at the charity for more than 14 years, and after having left to pursue other things, I was persuaded to return as a Trustee.

When I first worked at Care for the Carers our awareness raising efforts were concentrated on trying to influence the people who had the power to listen, to get better deals for carers and to raise the profile of carers. And we’re still doing that. We [carers] save the country millions a year and yet still it’s a fight, like now with the government and council cuts to carers’ services. Those services are carers’ lifelines. Cutting them is so shortsighted.

Which projects or services offered by Care for the Carers are closest to your heart and why?

I loved being part of organising trips. About 20 years ago, we arranged for carers and the person they care for to have a special treat day out at Ashburnham Place near Battle. Employees from the Post Office kindly donated their time to give carers a break. By assisting  the  cared  for  attendees  during  the day, carers could have a relaxing, worry-free day of therapies, and socialising and know that their loved one was nearby. It was such a worthwhile day - carers need to feel valued, it is important.

Are there any particular memories of Care for the Carers so far you’d like to share?

I was Chair when our then new (current) premises were opened by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne. I am a carer for my daughter - to have HRH Princess Anne come along and just be here with carers, reminding people we’re there, and we’re not going to go away, was very valuable.

What achievement as part of your role on the Board are you most proud of?

We gathered together a group of key decision makers connected with providing and affecting adult social care and provisions for carers (an MP, a chair of health and social care services and others), and arranged for them to shadow a carer for 24 hours. It was a very effective, powerful exercise that really made the group aware of the 24:7 demands that carers have on them. It was quite a pioneering exercise at the time, and took a lot of organisation to get everyone to agree to it.

I’ve felt it’s a privilege to have had the opportunity to chair the board, and I must acknowledge my husband’s support to enable me to do it.

With thanks to Jenny from all of us at Care for the Carers for your unwavering support and energy for helping carers across East Sussex.

This article was originally published in CareLine magazine, Winter 2018