On Sunday more than 1000 young carers attempted to smash a world record as they celebrated the launch of a major four-year programme to significantly improve help and support for young carers across England.
The world record, for the most people wearing paper hats, was attempted at the end of the three-day national Young Carers Festival (29 June - 1 July). The previous record stood at 390.
The record-breaking attempt marked the start of Young Carers in Focus (YCiF), a four-year programme Youth in Focus grant by the Big Lottery Fund, which aims to place young carers central to decisions and services that affect their lives. Wearing paper caps, the young carers stood in alignment, spelling 'YCiF'.
Safe social network for young carers
There are an estimated 139,000* young carers in England - some as young as five years old - who care for an ill parent or relative.
The £1.5 million Young Carers in Focus programme, launched at the festival, is being led by The Children’s Society, in partnership with YMCA Fairthorne Manor, DigitalMe, Rethink Mental Illness, The Fatherhood Institute and The Afiya Trust.
YCiF will include young carers across England, designing and building the first safe social network for young carers on the Radiowaves website. Young carers can take part in a young carer 'champion' scheme and receive training and skills through the programme to help raise awareness of the issues they face.
Giving young carers a voice, raising awareness
Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society said: 'We are so very pleased to have received this funding which responds directly to the needs highlighted by young carers themselves. The YCiF project will give them not only a voice, but the confidence and skills to raise professional and general public awareness about the issues affecting them. Announcing this major new grant is a great way to close this wonderful festival and launch our Young Carers in Focus programme.'
Big Lottery Fund’s England Director Dharmendra Kanani said: 'BIG is committed to supporting young carers, who perform an extremely vital, selfless and widely underestimated role in society. However problems can be hidden and can cost young people dearly at such key stages in their lives. I am pleased this investment will provide the appropriate support to create a pathway for better livelihoods and ensure young carers know they are not alone.'
Young carers set the world record and were photographed wearing paper hats supplied by Arjowiggins Graphic, standing in letters 'YCiF', to mark the launch of the Young Carers in Focus programme.
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Notes to editors
- The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and give a voice to young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.
- Young Carers in Focus aims to place young carers central to decisions and services that affect their lives. The project is made up of a number of components, including a safe on-line community designed by and for young carers, young carer ambassadors and a number of awareness raising events. The project is being funded from money from the Big Lottery Fund.
- The Include Project is home to The Children’s Society’s National Young Carers Initiative & Hampshire Young Carers Initiative, which promote good practice for young carers and their families.
- The annual Young Carer’s Festival is organised by The Children’s Society and YMCA Fairthorne Manor in Hampshire. In its thirteenth year, it is an opportunity for hundreds of young carers to leave their caring responsibilities at home for a fun-filled weekend. This includes jewellery-making, football tournaments, kayaking, roller disco, face painting and craft.
- DigitalMe runs a series of projects and programmes that put the power of social media in the hands of young people; the impact on the young people involved can be life-changing. Many participants, and the people who support them, have demonstrated enormous improvements in confidence, aspiration, and attitude to learning and life skills that will last them a lifetime. Messages from YCiF will reach 450,000 young people in over 9,000 schools over four years, through the Radiowaves school network www.radiowaves.co.uk where young carers will have their own online space to tell and share their story in their preferred way - video, audio, text and images. This range of ways to engage with, create and publish media will allow young carers of varying abilities and interests to participate.
- The Afiya Trust is a national charity that works to reduce inequalities in health and social care provision for people from racialised communities.The Trust support and maintain national and local networks concerned with the promotion of BME health and social care issues such as the National BME Mental Health Network, the National Black Carers and Carers Workers Network as well as projects on long term conditions such as stroke, diabetes and cancer.
- As a BME-led organisation with a national remit, and strong links to BME grassroots organisations, the involvement of service users and carers is central to Afiya's work as well as engaging voluntary and statutory organisations in the development and delivery of work programmes covering a broad range of health and social care issues.
- The Fatherhood Institute has 10 years' experience of supporting young male carers to give voice to their experiences at conferences, seminars and training courses. Fatherhood Institute wants all health, education, family and children’s services to be 'father-inclusive’ – that is, to support fathers in their caring roles as seriously as they currently support mothers.
- Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness. For 40 years we have brought people together to support each other. We run services and support groups that change people’s lives and challenge attitudes about mental illness. We directly support almost 60,000 people every year across England to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone. We give information and advice to 500,000 more and we change policy for millions.
- YMCA Fairthorne Manor is committed to 'championing and adding value to young lives by providing experiences that challenge, enable and develop the individual'. In 2000 the Young carers Festival (YCF) was created by YMCA Fairthorne Group in partnership with The Children’s Society. The annual event brings together up to 1500 young carers from across the UK for a weekend of fun, relaxation and consultation.