Putting carers on the map

11 June 2024

During Carers Week 2024, Nick Collinge-Cubberley, a Lead System Engineer at Leonardo UK, explains why the company’s Carers Network is a source of strength to him.

I have dual caring responsibilities – for my wife and for my eight-year-old son. My wife has cardiomyopathy (a degenerative heart condition), as well as problems with her pelvis and herniated discs, which impact her mobility. This means she often needs a stick to walk, is unable to pick up and carry stuff, and gets tired very easily. As a result, we have to plan travel so it doesn’t take long, is not on bumpy routes and there are opportunities for her to rest regularly. My son has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is a neurological and developmental disorder.

While my wife is able to work – even increasing her working hours and gaining greater independence since I changed jobs two years ago – my support is needed in getting her to hospital appointments. Additionally, when she is unable to work, childcare responsibilities go up for me. My son is in mainstream education, but there can be associated challenges, such as extended visits into school.

The good thing for me in my role at Leonardo as a Lead System Engineer within Secure Engineering, is that I have flexible working. Because my job is results- and delivery-based, I generally have the ability to change my working patterns, as required, to meet my caring responsibilities. Of course, there are certain things I need to be present for at fixed times, especially when leading meetings.

Some of my work requires working in protected zones which prevent the use of mobile phones and has limited connectivity. This can sometimes present a communication challenge, since I must also have means of being contactable, in the eventuality that my wife or son need immediate support.

Support from Leonardo’s carers community

Being a carer can be challenging and quite lonely sometimes. Therefore, since joining the company in July 2022, it’s been really nice to get to know other people at Leonardo through the Carers Network Group. I’ve also joined the committee as the Bristol office representative.

Our monthly ‘Care for a Cuppa’ virtual drop-in sessions provide an ideal opportunity to catch up with other colleagues across the UK who are also carers. Even though the group’s members have a range of different caring responsibilities – including elderly, adults and children – guidance is available for various support mechanisms.

For example, my son loves theme parks, and through the network, I found out about the Merlin Ride Access Pass. This is specifically for guests who find it difficult or cannot stand for long periods of time either due to a physical disability or a learning/emotional impairment. Merlin’s attractions include Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Legoland, and by having this pass, it makes the experience much more enjoyable for my son since he can skip the queue or choose a specific time to go on a ride.

Additional help for carers

The network provides a facility to reach out to people in similar situations.

Although external support mechanisms for carers exist – including a carer’s information pack and quarterly updates through my GP – many resources tend to be geared to non-working carers, such as daytime activities, which are when I’m working.

Though caring responsibilities and challenges vary among our members, we have common areas where we can support each other such as signposting fellow carers to relevant information on a national or local level.

This support, guidance and sense of community demonstrates even more just how valuable the Leonardo Carers Network is.

Carers network group

Carers network group

Leonardo's Carers network group is run by a small number of employees with caring responsibilities, across our UK sites. Caring responsibilities can come in various forms, from looking after elderly parents, unwell partners or friends, to caring for children with specific needs. The network provides support to employees, raises awareness of the issues that carers face, and helps the company deliver its inclusion objectives.