Last week a group of young carers and young adult carers spoke in the Houses of Parliament. They talked about a subject that had never been covered in this type of discussion. The subject is probably a really familiar one for anyone who works with young carers but it is not really known by the general public – the mental health of young carers. Continue reading
Young adult carers are pretty fluent at talking about mental health. They refer to it in many ways when they talk about managing the different aspects of their life and supporting the person they care for. The language that they use is rich in emotions, concern and words such as stress, anxiety, depression, relief, isolation and connection. In discussions about campaigning and changing the support available for them and their families, my impression has been that the concept of mental health is a really important part of how they explain what needs to change. Continue reading
So here it is, another new year and a chance to reflect on our lives, our hopes and ambitions for the future. In doing so, this year, I have decided to make a number of New Year’s plans, a mental list of the things I aim to achieve by December: decorating my house, learning to sew, and finally removing the tags from the gym kit that has been festering in my wardrobe. At the very least, I will finally try to get fit.
But more importantly, I plan to help make real positive change for young carers in schools. Continue reading
You may have noticed that Carers Trust been very busy with the Fair Start Campaign. Some of you may already be familiar with it but, for those that aren’t, it’s about young carers being given some extra financial help at school, via government funding called the Pupil Premium, in order to fulfil their potential. Continue reading
For me the day began with a walk past eagles with their wings outstretched, catching some rays in the early morning sun. I was heading to a room in London Zoo. In a few hours 40 young carers and young adult carers would turn up ready for a day of discussion, questions and campaigning. The NHS was bringing together important decision-makers such as Simon Stevens (Chief Executive of NHS England), Neil Hunt (Chief Executive of the Royal College of GPs), Wendy Nicholson (Professional Officer School & Community Nursing at Department of Health) and Xane Panayiotou (Department for Education). These decision-makers are involved in areas such as school nurses, GPs and new legislation to give stronger rights to young carers. Others oversaw big chunks of the NHS, such as services for people with long-term conditions and improving patient experience. They were coming to the event to listen to young carers and young adult carers in order to act and improve the NHS for them. Continue reading
This week, all of the organisations involved in Carers Week – including Carers Trust, Carers UK, the MS Society, Age UK and others – went to Whitehall to launch the Carers Week quest. The aim this year is to really focus our minds – not just amongst carers charities, but across the NHS, local authorities and other charities. We need to work together locally as well as nationally because although we know there are around 7 million carers in the UK, the vast majority do not get anything like enough support. Continue reading
You might not have noticed it as it came and went, but yesterday, Monday the 18 November 2013, was a historic day for young carers in England.
As you might have seen in a previous blog, the work we have been doing to ensure young carers have their rights recognised in law has finally paid off. Following the statement from the Secretary of State, the Government put forward an amendment to the Children and Families Bill that will mean young carers , on the appearance of need, will have a right to assessment and to having their needs met. This is an enormous step forward. The amendment was debated last week, and technically, it passed on Monday. The law, we expect, will be passed in full in the New Year, and will come into force in 2015. For the first time, in law, young carers will be recognised. Continue reading
As part of our Care o’ Clock campaign to help raise awareness about the issues faced by young adult carers, young carers from Swindon Carers Centre recently put some questions forward to their MP Robert Buckland, to give him the opportunity to tell us about why he thinks young carers and young adult carers should be supported and what can be done to make a positive difference to their lives.
Robert Buckland MP has been working with Carers Trust to help ensure that the Government changes the law for young carers so that they stronger rights to assessment and support.
Young carers: What do you think are the biggest issues for young carers and their families in your area (Swindon) and across the country?
Robert Buckland MP: The recognition of their needs is the most important issue facing young carers and families in England. We know that the official number of young carers is only the tip of the iceberg because many are not identified, let alone receive the support that they need. Continue reading
On Tuesday, the Secretary of State for Education Rt Hon Michael Gove MP made an announcement that the Government is going to change the law for young carers and published an amendment to the Children and Families Bill. It was a landmark moment for young carers and their families and for the National Young Carers Coalition’s (NYCC) campaign, led by Carers Trust.
It means that not only will young carers have stronger rights to assessment and support, but it will also be made clear to professionals that services should work together so that the whole family is supported. For the first time, children’s and adults’ law will be linked together so that the law is really clear and no one can say they don’t know what they are supposed to do to support young carers.
This should help to prevent children and young people from undertaking caring roles that can sometimes stop them from going to school; cause them stress and anxiety and prevent them from achieving the things they want to achieve.
Our hope is that these changes will make a difference to children’s lives because professionals in a position to recognise and support young carers will understand how caring can impact upon their lives and provide support so that young carers can thrive like other children and young people.
This is really at the heart of the issue as for too long and too often caring has not seen as something that can actually harm a child’s outcomes. Children have been left to get on with it, even if they are doing things most adults would not be expected to do.
The changes are significant in another way, because they prove that sometimes the Government does listen when young people raise their voices and charities unite and call for change.
It is true that this doesn’t happen often, but our campaign has shown that if we work together and take the time to find out what the problems are, by listening to young people and families, then we can speak clearly and confidently about why change is needed.
Since July 2012, young carers and young carers’ services across the country have contacted their MPs and written to the Government; some have met with politicians and taken part in events, tweeted or talked to their local newspaper about the campaign. This activity has been supported by all the major charities for carers and children and families who have met with the Government to work out the best way to make the changes needed.
A clear and united message is a powerful one which is why it is not a surprise that politicians from all the major political parties supported the National Young Carers Coalition’s calls for change. Some of those MPs and Peers have also championed young carer’s rights for many years – people like Barbara Keeley MP, Rt Hon Paul Burstow MP and Robert Buckland MP – and we are grateful for all the support from Parliamentarians, without whom we would not be here today.
It was also important that earlier in the year representatives from local government agreed to key principles for changing the law for young carers. The Association for Directors of Adult Services (ADASS), Association for Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and the Local Government Association (LGA), joined with NYCC to call on the Government to improve young carers’ lives.
For Carers Trust it’s been a long journey but for a charity who represents all carers, whoever they are, whomever they care for and whatever their experience of caring may be, we are delighted that the Government has listened to young carers and intends to give them stronger rights.
So now there is only one more thing to say and to do – thank you to all the young carers, practitioners and politicians who have made this happen. Let’s celebrate!
The Scottish Young Carers Festival is over for another year and this year it really was the biggest and best so far. This was our sixth Festival and over 800 young carers and their workers joined us at Broomlee Outdoor Centre in the Scottish Borders. The Festival runs Friday through to Sunday and each day is packed with events and activities for the young carers.
On Friday afternoon the buses started to arrive. It was so lovely to see young carers groups from across Scotland being reunited with each other. The Festival is a place where friendships are formed and most of them wouldn’t have seen each other since the previous year. To witness them cheering the buses as they arrived and hugging each other was a truly heart-warming moment. They immediately started to sign each other’s Festival t-shirts and excitedly look through their goody bags and at the programme to see what was in store for them.
The young carers are always full of energy when they arrive so we attempted to tire them out with a disco on Friday evening. It worked to a certain extent but they still started to stir at 5.30am on Saturday morning — much to the delight of the volunteers and support workers!
On Saturday we opened the YC Zone. This is a place where young carers go to share their views and opinions on what it’s like to be a young carer in Scotland. For the first time there was a queue outside the YC Zone on Saturday morning and within an hour the walls were filled with notes from young carers, which was really encouraging to see.
The young carers were given a further opportunity to air their views on Sunday, when key policy and decision-makers joined us. Guests included Michael Matheson MSP, Minister for Public Health, Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Children and Young People and Angela Constance MSP, Minister for Youth Employment. The guests and young carers really value this face-to-face time. It gives the young carers a unique platform to speak directly to the people who can really make a difference to their everyday lives.
On Sunday evening they started their journey home. They take with them new friends and memories that will see them through to next year and beyond. They leave with us their thoughts and ideas on how we can make their lives a little easier. It is now up to us to carry these forward.
It is difficult to sum up the experience of the Festival and the impact it has. I always try to take a moment during the Festival to really look at the young carers. What is clear to me is that the weight of the world seems to have temporarily been lifted from their shoulders. They are happy, relaxed and able to just be children and young people. To be a part of that is so rewarding.