The 2011 Census identified nearly two-hundred thousand Young Carers within England and Wales with over twenty-thousand aged under 8. There are two classifications of Young Carers, those who are aged 5-18 and then 18-25, with the upper ages being classed as Young Adult Carers. We get our rights from The Children and Families Act 2014 and The Carers Act 2014.
A bit about my role and why I am so passionate about Young Carers rights. I have been a registered young carer since the age of twelve, despite carrying out the role since the age of five. That shows the difficulty of registering and classifying Young Carers. My mother has a range of disabilities that make everyday activities like dressing, cooking and cleaning difficult. From the age of fourteen my caring responsibilities extended to my late grandmother, who passed away in March 2020, with these responsibilities including providing my grandad with respite by caring for my grandmother to allow him to rest. As a Young Carer I was lucky; I had a strong support network and I was able to go on the educational path I wanted to, with me now studying for a BSc in Mathematics. However, this is not always the case. Some Young Carers feel they have to either go straight into work after secondary school or they’re not able to study for the Level 3 qualifications they desire because they feel their caring responsibilities restrict them from doing so. Under the Children and Families Act my previous statement shouldn’t even be imaginable as it states:
“A local authority, in carrying out a young carer’s needs assessment, must have regard to the extent to which the young carer is participating in or wishes to participate in education, training or recreation, and the extent to which the young carer works or wishes to work”
This shows that some Local Authorities are failing in their Young Carers.
Young Carers Action Day 2021 is focussed around protecting our rights, which are so often overlooked. Some of you may recall the Young Conservative Network event with The Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC, when I asked him about this very legislation. He spoke about Young Carers and how in Swindon there is a good system, but unfortunately there is somewhat of a ‘postcode lottery’ for Young Carers in accessing help. The fact he even knew about the issue shows how involved he is with his local community, but other constituencies may not be as lucky.
At the start of the month, I wrote to several of my local MPs and Ministers at the Department of Education to set out my ideas for the future of Young Carers rights. We have had 7 years of Locally controlled services, yet we see many local authorities with no needs assessment or transition assessment. A start would be for DfE to produce an assessment that could be rolled out across the country which would ensure that Young Carers across the country are at least being assessed. Support levels vary across Young Carers, I have been lucky to not need much support but others in my local area may be suffering in silence because our Council doesn’t formally have a process of assessing us.
On the 16th Young Carers and Young Adult Carers shall be taking part in Young Carers Action Day, then 5 days later we have Census Day 2021, these two events will help shape the future of Young Carers. I hope that over the next decade that we are represented and listened to the way we deserve to be.