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Meet Eryc and Trayc, the very young, young carers

Note: The following blog post is from Louise Morgan, Young Carers Services Manager based in the Scotland office of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. Here she talks about Eryc and Trayc and their mission to help young carers in Scotland’s primary schools. This article was originally published here

I work with services which support young carers all over Scotland, but some time ago we had noticed that what seemed to be missing was an awareness of very young, young carers – among the children themselves and at schools.

Thanks to money from the Scottish Government we came up with the idea of cartoon characters we could use to give the

Eryc and Trayc, the very young carers

children an idea of what young carers do, what might affect them and their schoolwork as a result and signpost them to sources of further help.

We worked with an advertising agency to create Eryc and Trayc (the misspelling is deliberate…) who have their own website, which outlines what a young carer might do and what their lives are like. The site also includes an animated film, narrated by the Lord of the Rings star Billy Boyd which sets out Eryc and Trayc’s lives in a really simple and easy to understand way.

To get Eryc and Trayc started, we ran a competition for children in Scottish schools. We asked them to come up with ideas for what Eryc and Trayc would look like, picked a winner and then we used a professional designer to turn them into cartoon characters.

To launch the website and animated film, we asked for the help of Billy Boyd (again!) and worked with one of the schools that had run the original competition. The Scottish Minister for Public Health, Michael Matheson, joined us at the school to officially ‘switch on’ the website and watch the animated film with the children.

We’d also let all Scottish schools know that the website was about to go live, and invited them to virtually join us on the day.

Now, we’ve run a second competition, asking children to tell us what they have learned from watching the Eryc and Trayc film. The prize for this is to appear in the next Eryc and Trayc animation and we’ve been flooded with really great answers – demonstrating a brilliant understanding from the children about young carers and what they do.

Not surprisingly, as it is reckoned that one in 8 children shoulders a caring role, quite a few of these answers are from young carers themselves and from pupils who have friends who are young carers.

The next stage is to distribute a school pack for pupils. Again, this will contain information about young carers, what they do and where to get further help. We hope to have this ready by the autumn. We’re also planning to launch a resource pack for teachers, which will contain lots of useful information.

In the meantime, we’d be delighted if you took some time to visit our microsite – www.erycandtrayc.com to see the characters for yourself.

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August 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 3 Comments

Prime Minister celebrates Carers Week

Note: The following post is from Beryl Cross, Head of Operations at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers

The Prime Minister hosted a reception for about 150 carers at 10 Downing Street yesterday to celebrate Carers’ Week. I Number 10was there with carers and staff from our Carers’ Centres. You had to be very brave to fight through the melee to get to the Prime Minister, or in Louise’s case perhaps have someone like me to push you in the back to make you do so.

Louise is a young carers who is supported by our Bromley Carers’ Centre, and she gave David Cameron a letter she had written explaining her experience and ideas for supporting young carers.  Moira Fraser, our Director of Policy, was also straight in there, highlighting to David Cameron the need for government to take action on getting NHS money for carers breaks delivered to carers and raising our Give Carers a Break campaign. And it seemed to work as in his speech later in the evening the Prime Minister said the government should “follow through” on getting Primary Care Trusts to use that breaks money for carers.

He also made reference to his own experience as a carer for his son and he gave “a huge thank you” to the carers there for what they do. There were many other Ministers there including Nick Clegg MP, Paul Burstow MP (Minister for Care Services) and Steve Webb MP (Minister for Pensions), plus Tony Baldry MP co-chair the Parliamentary Group on Carers and other MPs who have supported carers in Parliament. They also recognised the massive contribution made by carers.

Jack Dromey MP also asked the Prime Minister about carers during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday to which the PM responded:

“Everyone in the House should welcome the fact that it is carers week. I will be having a reception in No. 10 tonight to celebrate carers week with many people who take part and who are carers. This Government are putting in £400 million to give carers more breaks and £800 million specifically to make sure that those looking after disabled children get regular breaks.”

Thanks

Beryl

June 16, 2011 Posted by | Carers Week 2009, Relationships, Social Care, Young carers | , , , , | 5 Comments

Ready for Carers Week 2011

Carers Week 2011 will be the largest awareness raising week in the UK and it begins on Monday 13th June. Over 1500 organisations including Carers’ Centres and Crossroads Care schemes, other charities, local councils, GP surgeries, hospitals and private sector companies will be holding events throughout the week.

My week begins with an event with MPs and carers on Monday, which will be something akin tcarers weeko speed dating. Numerous carers will be sat at various tables and MPs will come in and speak to each one, moving around the tables giving them a chance to hear and discuss what it’s like to be a carer.

The aim is to show MPs the range of people that caring can affect and the different issues involved. So there will be young carers there, older carers, carers who combine work and care, people who care for people who have mental health problems, or learning disabilities, or physical disabilities. I’ll blog on Monday night to let you know how it goes.

On Wednesday, Sheila Gilmore MP is holding a debate in Parliament on carers and the effects of spending cuts on them and there will also be a reception for carers at 10 Downing Street hosted by the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP. We will have a guest blogger reporting back on that one.

Fast forwarding to Sunday 19th June, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers will be featured on the BBC Lifeline Appeal on BBC One at 4.55pm. Do tune in and tell friends and family about it – we hope it will raise the profile of carers and also where carers can get help.

You can find out what events are happening in your local area at the Carers Week website and do post comments letting us know if you are involved in holding events for Carers Week. If you are, good luck!

Take care

Gordon

PS: Carers need continued support. Don’t forget to tune-in to BBC Lifeline’s appeal for carers on BBC One on June 19th at 4:45 pm (if you are in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) and 5:15 (if in Scotland). Please do spread the word.

June 10, 2011 Posted by | Carers Week 2009, Mental Health, Young carers | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Do not let funding cuts affect services for young carers

Note: Danni Manzi, guest blogger this week, is young carers’ lead at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Chair of the National Young Carers Coalition.

Young carers are hitting the headlines today. The BBC has found that 700,000 young people identified themselves as young carers – four times as many as the last set of official statistics.

Young carer helping his brother

We’re urging local and national governments not to cut funding to services that support young carers

The 2001 census identified 175,000 young carers which we always knew was a vast underestimation. It asked parents to complete the survey on behalf of their child – many either don’t recognise the caring role their child has, or they don’t want to disclose it for fear of intervention from services. Also the census only asked about physical disability, it didn’t refer to mental health, substance misuse or HIV/AIDS so it missed out on a significant number of young people that provide care for parents in these situations.

The new BBC figures are just a start. In our experience, we know just how hard it is for young carers to recognise themselves as such and to come forward for the help they need. So it’s very likely that there are many more young carers than the 700,000 identified by the BBC, especially when there is stigma (perceived or real) surrounding the condition of the person they care for.

It’s important that young carers feel able to come forward and tell people they are carers. Schools have a vital part to play in the identification and support of young carers. Social care does too. Often just a small amount of help, put into place early enough, can really reduce the caring a young person does and help them to cope. But our worry is that with cuts in funding, services will be less able to support young carers and their families; it’s likely that now, only when a caring role has caused damage to a young carer’s health and well-being, will services be able to help.

We’re urging local and national governments to not cut funding to services that support young carers, including funding for dedicated young carers’ services that do so much for so many young carers across the UK.

At The Trust, we work really hard every day to raise awareness of young carers needs’. Sometimes it feels like we’re getting nowhere and then out of the blue we’re handed a golden ticket. Today might just be one of those days.

Let’s hope that everybody is listening!

Danni Manzi

Further info:

Young carers can find online support on www.youngcarers.net

If you are working with young carers you can access info and resources on http://professionals.carers.org/young-carers

November 16, 2010 Posted by | Big Society, Education, Uncategorized, Young carers | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Can the Government Do to Help You?

You may be glad to hear that after spouting forth recently, not even one opinion will be spouted by me in this blog. I want you to spout instead.

In November or December, the Government will outline how they will try support carers between 2011 and 2015. But until 20th September, we all have the chance to influence their thinking. The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care will be submitting a response and we’re both keen to hear your thoughts and opinions.

The Government have split their plans into five areas and I want your ideas on what you think the Government could do to help you (or carers generally):

  1. Be respected as expert care partners and have access to personalised services they need to support them in their caring role
  2. Have a life of their alongside their caring role
  3. Be supported so that they care not forced into financial hardship by their caring role (NB benefits are being considered as part of another consultation and not this one, which I’ll come to in a later blog, so it would be more useful to focus on other things here)
  4. Be supported to stay mentally and physically well and treated with dignity.
  5. Children and young people will be protected from inappropriate caring and have the support they need to learn, develop and thrive, to enjoy positive childhoods and to achieve against all the Every Child Matters outcomes

So, flood me with comments and it would be great if you could explain to me why you think the Government should prioritise what you’re suggesting, rather than other areas. And also why it would help achieve one of the five aims outlined above.

Thanks folks

Gordon

August 27, 2010 Posted by | Budget, Carers Strategy, David Cameron, Health, Mental Health, Social Care, Young carers | , , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Carers and the Big Society

Note: This post is from our guest blogger Tony Baldry MP who is Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Carers. Tony Baldry MP made a speech at the meeting of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers held in the House of Commons on Wednesday, 28th July 2010.
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Last week, the Prime Minister repeated his commitment to the Big Society making it clear that its’ success will depend “on the daily decisions of millions of people – on them giving their time, effort, even money, to causes around them”. My whole political life has been predated on this same principle.

However, I am concerned at a potential and unintended conflict between the Coalition Government’s very understandable desire on the one hand to promote the Big Society and the need to cut the budget deficit.

In my constituency in Banbury we have the North and West Oxfordshire Carers’ Centre, member of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and has been successfully running now for nearly two decades.

Such has been the dedication and commitment of the volunteers that the centre has won the Queen’s Award – one of very few such awards in Oxfordshire. The Banbury Carers’ Centre like the Oxford and South Oxfordshire Carers’ Centres are comprised of a mixture of experienced volunteers and some paid staff, enjoying the financial support of the local community.

They help train carers. They provide outreach services for carers. They provide a place where carers and different types of carers can come and meet, share experiences, unwind and support each other.

As we all know, carers come in many kinds from young carers to very elderly spouses still looking after a much loved husband or wife.

In undertaking this valuable work, for many years the Banbury Carers’ Centre has received funds from Oxfordshire County Council to deliver specific agreed services to carers. The reasons the County Council was procuring these services from Carers’ Centres are exactly the reasons set out by the Prime Minister in support of “the Big Society”; Carers’ Centres and their volunteers are exactly the people who are making a difference, are in contact with other carers and are in the best position to understand, articulate and meet carers’ needs. They are full of people who come together and work together to affect social change and to improve life for carers.

As far as I am aware there has never been a suggestion that the Banbury Carers’ Centre or the other Oxfordshire carers’ centres have failed to meet the objectives with which they have agreed with the County Council. However, the Council has to make savings in their budget.

They are proposing withdrawing their funding from the carers’ centres in Oxfordshire and replacing that service by a telephone call centre, almost certainly run from outside of the county to which carers will be able to call.

Part of the justification of this move, in addition to the need to save money, is an assertion that it will help them reach more carers. However, there doesn’t appear to have been any or any real discussion with the existing Carers’ Centres as to the number of carers that they are already reaching.

I would suggest the issue here is that many people who are carers simply don’t recognise themselves as being carers and if they don’t recognise themselves as being carers, they are not likely to ring a carers’ telephone hotline.

We need a collective effort to help carers voluntarily register themselves as carers so that they are recognised as being carers by GPs or by schools if they are young carers. This requires a sustained campaign in GPs surgeries, in the schools, and in the media to make people ask the question “are you a carer?”

I suspect that for many years GPs haven’t been asking the question of whether someone is a carer, because there has been very little that they could do to support them. However, now that PCTs have funds to support respite care, GPs are in a position to refer carers for respite care and short holiday breaks and for that reason alone, one would hope that every GP practice would know which of their registered patients are also carers.

I think the reality is that for many years central government has used local government to support a whole range of social interventions. Money for carers’ breaks is given in part to PCTs and given in part to local Councils. However, if local government is obliged to save money, they understandably start by reducing funding for those organisations for which they have no immediate responsibility.

However, there are a very large number of active citizens undertaking constructive voluntary work within our community who to a certain extent depend on some funding from local government. An alternative, of course is to allow organisations such as the Banbury Carers’ Centre to bid direct to central government to provide carers’ services.

Here we appear to be bedevilled that Oxfordshire County Council has decided to bundle up all its carers’ contracts into a single contract, thus bringing it within the parameters of the EU procurement directives and requiring compulsory tendering. This makes it much more difficult for local voluntary organisations to bid and appears to run completely counter to the desire for localism and the Big Society.

I think we all have to accept that these are particularly difficult and unusual times. No peace time government has had to tackle a similar financial deficit. We need to develop the Big Society. We need to see how we can best reconcile these two policy objectives. However, to start with we have to recognise and acknowledge that there are some real tensions that need to be worked through.

Tony Baldry MP
House of Commons

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July 28, 2010 Posted by | Budget, Carers Strategy, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Our five election asks for carers

a number five on the side of a house

We must also take the opportunity to tell candidates what we want from them

Politicians may think that the election campaign is their chance to speak to the country, but I think it really should be a time for us to speak to them…

I explained in a previous blog that it’s important to vote or we risk carers’ issues being neglected. But before voting we must also take the opportunity to tell candidates what we want from them.

These are our five asks for carers. If a candidate knocks on your door, put them on the spot, ask them if they will pledge to make these a reality for carers:

1. The National Carers’ Strategy must be implemented

The 10 year Carers’ Strategy to improve carers’ lives has only just begun. £255m was committed to deliver the improvements needed up to 2011, but we need parties to commit to continuing this.

2. Don’t cut the Carers Grant

Local authorities will receive £256m (England) in April 2010 to support carers. Carers need to know that this Carers Grant to local authorities will continue throughout the next Parliament. Not every area has specialist carers’ services providing information, training, advice, emotional support and respite. We need to keep the Carers Grant to support carers everywhere.

3. No carer in poverty

Too many carers scrape by on a Carer’s Allowance of £53.90 p/w. One third of carers cut back on food or struggle to pay essential fuel bills. Financial worries harm their health and ability to care. Flexible working and more respite care need to be available allowing carers to combine work and care. Benefits should be higher for those unable to work.

4. Help young adult carers in further education

Carers lose their Carer’s Allowance if they are enrolled in a full-time course or are doing more than 21 hours of training per week. This leaves many carers hoping to go to college or university with a terrible choice if their family depends on Carer’s Allowance.

5. Support young carers in school

Many young carers remain hidden from services and lose their childhood and chance to do well at school. Every school should have a young carer’s policy and lead member of staff to help staff identify and support pupils who are young carers.

Make sure your voice is heard. And let me know what your election asks are in comments section below.

Take care,

Gordon

April 6, 2010 Posted by | General Election | , , , | 8 Comments

Carers of all ages need our support

a cartoon of Never Never Land

This is the simple truth - young carers grow up to be adult carers

Despite my relative youth (compared to Bruce Forsyth), I constantly find myself wistfully looking back to my carefree childhood. It is no surprise that my hero was Peter Pan who lived in Never Never Land and refused to grow up. My abiding memory of childhood is long summer nights spent playing football with friends or golf on Craigie Hill overlooking beautiful Perthshire.

I had it easy.

This week, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers announced that we would be distributing £1.5m to help young carers on behalf of Comic Relief. This is the third time they have given us money for this and has a tremendous impact on some young carers’ lives. My boss hopes that it will “help them to be children”.

There are children of all ages – including six and seven year olds – caring for parents or brothers and sisters, often providing nursing-type care: changing a colostomy bag; injecting insulin; bathing their mother. What childhood will they have to look back on? These are kids who Never Never get to be children.

The first young carer I met was a girl aged 9 who cared for her mum. I was shocked when she started telling me what she did and where her play area was – the living room and the small hallway by the kitchen as she couldn’t leave her Mum.

I sometimes think about some of the young carers who I’ve met and wonder what they are doing now; what have they grown up to be like? For many, they grow up to face the same caring responsibilities that they faced when they were a child. This is the simple truth that can avoid people who think young carers deserve support but adult carers don’t – young carers grow up to be adult carers.

Caring is not something that some young carers do between the ages of 5 and 18, and then older people do in retirement. Young carers may have specific and greater needs, but caring affects people of all ages. We cannot have situations where a carer in need cannot get help because she turned eighteen yesterday. What kind of birthday present is that?

A sprinkling of fairy dust could be good for carers of all ages. Find out more about the Comic Relief Grant Programme or visit our website for young carers.

Take care,

Gordon

January 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized, 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