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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