On Young Carers Awareness Day in January 2020, our head of development for young carers and families Helen Prince wrote a letter to the seven MPs in the areas we cover. She asked them to support a new national campaign, Count Me In!
As many as one in five secondary school children may be a young carer, although for many of these young people caring begins at a much younger age. Caring for someone can be isolating, worrying and stressful. Young carers also do substantially less well than their peers in formal exams, which can have a lasting effect on their life chances.
She told the politicians that Carers’ Resource wants all young carers to get the help and support they need to succeed. We therefore asked if they would support the Count Me In! campaign by:
- Tabling a Parliamentary Question asking the Government to:
- Collect and publish information about the attendance, school achievement and wellbeing of young carers.
- Make sure councils have the money they need to be able to do what the law says.
- Asking local schools/colleges if they recognise young carers as a vulnerable group of learners, what they are doing to identify them, and how they are getting them the help they need.
- Asking their local authority how it delivers young carers’ rights – is it counting the number of young carers given formal assessments and support?
- Posting on social media or writing a blog post for their website.
As a result of the letters, Bradford East MP Imran Hussain offered to visit Carers’ Resource to discuss the issues highlighted in the campaign.
Shipley MP Philip Davies wrote to the Secretary of State for Children and Families, and also to schools and colleges in his constituency, to raise our concerns. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Vicky Ford replied by letter. In the reply, she said:
The benefits of schools identifying and supporting young carers are clear, and schools will monitor attendance of all children closely.
We’re grateful to Mr Davies for writing to the Secretary of State. Unfortunately, the answer from the Government contains no new information or commitments. Young carers are a specific vulnerable group of pupils and, although absence is one indicator of being a young carer, there are many other factors which impact on their education. A failure to monitor the identification and achievement of young carers as a specific group – and a lack of legislation around this area – mean young carers will continue to underachieve in comparison to their peers. We need action, and quickly.
Mr Davies says:
The Government really needs to listen to Carers’ Resource and the carers it works with. Young carers are inspirational and clearly deserve all the support they need. I am happy to help in any way I can.