THE new leader of an award-winning Shipley-based charity is calling for greater awareness and recognition of carers within the workplace - and society as a whole.

Chris Whiley, the director of Carers’ Resource, is succeeding charity founder Anne Smyth who retires at the end of November.

Mrs Whiley has previously been the chief executive of Visyon, a Cheshire charity supporting children and young people, and is a former assistant director of Children’s Services in Bradford.

"People of any background can be a carer and each and every one of them has needs, it’s not about wealth or upbringing, it’s about needing support and the right support for that individual," she said.

"Everyone needs to be recognising the important role and the contribution carers make - employers need to make across-the-board action to support employees to be both good carers and effective members of the workforce."

When asked about local and national governmental cost-cutting, she said: "We’ve got to be focusing on prevention, for example going into hospital is expensive and there are a range of interventions that can prevent it from happening.

"Early intervention, planning ahead, and making plans while we’re fit and well is what we all need to be doing."

As a teenager, Mrs Whiley was a young carer for brother, Richard, who died of leukaemia when he was six.

"We lived in the country, it was very remote. My mum was always at the hospital with him, which was 40 miles away. As I was the oldest I was running the home, and looking after siblings and going to school, as my dad was working," she said.

"There was no support available for any of us and it really was a traumatic time for us all. It had a big impact on the whole family, then and afterwards."

Mrs Whiley, who has been working closely with Mrs Smyth over the past few weeks, said she was "privileged and delighted" to be at the helm of the charity, which offers tailor-made support and services to unpaid carers in Craven, Harrogate and Ripon, Bradford, Wharfedale and Airedale.

"From seeing the advert for the role, and throughout the recruitment and selection process I felt very much at home. It was energising," she said.

"I’m acutely aware of the responsibility I have following in Anne’s footsteps as she has put her heart and soul into Carers’ Resource, and fortunately, as I’ve got to know her over the summer I realise we’re not a million miles apart - we’re quite similar in our approach."

Mrs Whiley said she would continue to push for greater recognition of carers, to fight their rights and to help ensure they have a "quality of life".