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Young carers firmly on Children and Families Bill agenda

Young carer at window

After 6 months of working  behind the scenes putting together the evidence, the Children and Families Bill finally hit the House of Commons recently, in the form of the second reading debate.

Emma, our Senior Policy and Parliamentary Officer, has been working her socks off getting briefings written and circulated to MPs to let them know what they need to do to make a significant change for young carers.

The odd thing is that usually when you write a briefing, you’re writing about what’s in a Bill—not what’s absent. And that’s the thing: the Bill is absolutely silent on young carers. Unless some amendments are added in, we’re going to end up in a situation where adult carers’ rights are improved (a good thing, of course) but young carers’ rights are left behind. This is untenable.

Work of National Young Carers Coalition pays off

We have spent months meeting with officials and the Minister, and with our partners in the National Young Carers Coalition (which includes Barnardos, Family Action, Action for Children, and The Children’s Society), and I like to think we are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

We’ve had positive words of support. The Scrutiny Committee of the Care and Support Bill, in a recent session, made it very clear that they think we’ve got a very good point.

Still, it wasn’t guaranteed we’d get a good hearing. There were lots of important issues debated today – adoption and fostering, special educational needs, family justice – all things that need their air time. But it was fantastic to listen to the debate and hear the support for young carers.

Encouraging words of support from MPs

Barbara Keeley MP, a real champion for carers, managed to make a point during the Minister Ed Timpson’s speech, which resulted in him acknowledging the importance of the issue and saying that he would “continue to listen” to us.

This may not sound like much, but in parliamentary language it means there’s at least a chance we might get somewhere with this. And responding to the Minister’s speech, Stephen Twigg MP laid out that we can’t have a position where young carers have lesser rights than their adult counterparts.

Many other MPs spoke. Some had more time to spend on this issue than others, but we’re grateful to all who showed their support. The next step is Committee stage where we’ll need to push the amendments we need – and we will need strong parliamentary pressure, so if you care about this, write to your MP.

There’s a long way to go yet and today was only the beginning. But it was definitely a good start.

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February 26, 2013 Posted by | Young carers | , , , | 6 Comments

Education without Compromise: Doing the right thing for young carers in school

As a student of both politics and history at school and university I remember being fascinated by coalition governments, the opportunities and challenges that faced them and hoped that a coalition government might happen in my lifetime.

Young carer helping his brother

We want a coalition government that takes a shared and joint responsibility for meeting young carers' needs


I hear a good friend reminding me: “Danni, be careful what you wish for”.

The optimist in me sees a political landscape filled with consensus-seeking, compromise and opportunity. The pessimist suspects a series of stalemates and dead ends and (at least) two sets of opinions, views (and egos!) that make change difficult to achieve.

I, like many others, wonder how it’s all going to pan out but more importantly what this will mean for carers and young carers throughout the UK.

One of our election asks was that there should be more support for young carers in school. We know that for many children and young people, being a carer has a detrimental impact on their education and experience of school life, and this is evidenced by the results of our recent survey of young carers aged 6-18.

700 young carers took part and the findings make grim reading:

  • Nearly half of the young carers who took part in the study said there was not a single teacher at their school who knew they were a young carer.
  • 60% said that they do not think their teacher would understand what life was like for them
  • 70% agreed with the statement that “being a young carer has made their life more difficult”
  • More than two thirds reported being bullied at school

What is The Trust doing about this? Firstly, in partnership with The Children’s Society (politicians take note: it can be done), The Trust has developed a new information pack ‘Supporting Young Carers: a resource for schools’ to help staff identify and support young carers more effectively, free to download from www.carers.org/professionals from May 2010.

Secondly, and crucially, the Trust will work quickly to get to grips with new ministerial teams, policies and personalities. Both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats have school reform on their agenda, and the Prime Minister spoke on Wednesday of “rebuilding family, rebuilding community, above all, rebuilding responsibility in our country”. The Trust will be asking the new administration to take a long, hard look at these statistics and use their powers to ensure that young carers are supported in their school and community, and that where there is illness or disability in a family, the whole family is supported. We want a coalition government that takes a shared and joint responsibility for meeting young carers’ needs, whoever they are and wherever they live.

Take care,

Danni

Danni Manzi, Policy and Development Manager for Young Carers (England and Wales) at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, is guest blogger this week

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Education, Young carers | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bridging the gaps for young adult carers

Young carers and MPs at the launch of the of the National Young Carers Coalition

The Government announced £1million for young carers services yesterday

The voluntary sector is known for leading the way in partnership working and that was in evidence at the launch of the National Young Carers Coalition (NYCC), yesterday.

Hosted by Sir George Young, the event brought coalition partners, young carers and young adult carers, support workers and MPs together to celebrate the many achievements for young carers in recent years.

What have we got to celebrate?

The 2008 Carers Strategy has a dedicated chapter on young carers. The “Think Family” strategy and Extended Family Pathfinders focus strongly on young carers and their families. All steps in the right direction.

Then there’s the £1million funding announced at yesterday’s event to help young carers services look more at the needs of the whole family when supporting young carers.

But we can’t rest on our laurels.

There’s still lots to be done. Families, particularly where there is mental health illness or substance misuse, are still reluctant to approach services for help because of the stigma attached to these illnesses and because they worry that their children may be taken into care.

Gaps in children’s and adults’ services mean that too many families are still going unsupported and young carers continue to find themselves in inappropriate caring roles.

Another challenge for services and professionals supporting carers – and for the NYCC to address – is the 290,000 young adult carers aged 16-24 in the UK.

Professor Saul Becker talked yesterday about research that highlights how many of these young adult carers fear the loss of support when they turn 18.

Progress in education, employment and training can be seriously hindered by a life with caring responsibilities and this age group are particularly affected by the challenges of trying to balance caring whilst carving out a life of their own.

And this throws partnership working back into the spotlight.

Adult’s and children’s services need to think about how they are going to work together to make sure young adult carers don’t get left out on a limb when they turn 18.

The words of one young adult carer who spoke yesterday ring in my ears today: “Just because I’m 18, it doesn’t mean I stop caring… so services shouldn’t either”.

Rest assured that this message was heard loud and clear yesterday and is another thing The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and its coalition partners has on its “To Do” list.

Take care,

Danni

Danni Manzi is Young Carers Lead at The Princess Royal Trust for Young Carers and Chair of the National Young Carers Coalition (NYCC)

November 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized, Young carers | , , , , | 4 Comments