The Young Carers Festivals, organised by our Include programme and YMCA Fairthorne Manor, are part of the process of recognising, informing and consulting with young carers in order to better meet the needs of them and their families.
The annual festivals provide the opportunity for young carers from across the UK to get their voices heard about changes they want to see by taking part in participatory consultations to inform future work and to be communicated to government.
Learn more about this year's Young Carers Festival at Include's website, youngcarer.com.
History of the Young Carers Festival
Peter Cooper of YMCA Fairthorne Manor recalled the very beginning of the Young Carers Festival:
'In December 1999, Jenny Frank of The Children's Society shared with me a dream of gathering together a group of young carers from all over the UK for a weekend's conference. It was estimated that the numbers could be as high as a hundred. Immediately I knew that something out of the ordinary was going to happen. As Jenny described the need for a fun weekend, with opportunities for young people to relax, meet others and record their views and needs, a clear picture of the event entered my mind. The dream was contagious.'
In truth the first Young Carers Festival, held in 2000, exceeded even the organisers expectations when 600 young carers arrived at YMCA Fairthorne Manor in Hampshire. Since then, The Young Carers Festivals have grown, with up to 1,800 young carers now attending every year.
The Young Carers Festivals are part of the process of recognising, informing and consulting with young carers in order to better meet the needs of them and their families. They also provide the young people with the opportunity to have fun, relax, socialise and forget their responsibilities for a weekend.
The past ten years of festivals
Over the past ten years The Children's Society in partnership with YMCA Fairthorne Manor have consulted with the young people on a range of issues including education, health and Young Carers projects. These young people's participation has informed the content of two major pieces of carers legislation, guidance for teachers and most recently, the content of the prime minister's carers strategy. Over 400 young carers were also involved in informing the content of The Children's Society's Good Childhood Inquiry.
The continued support from external organisations and members of parliament has ensured that the needs of young carers and their family are being recognised and that changes to legislation, policy and guidance concerning young carers is being made.
'The Young Carers Festival has successfully brought together over 14,000 young carers and is now the largest gathering of young carers in the world. The Festival provides young carers the chance to add their voice on issues that are important to them and their families and a weekend where they can enjoy time for themselves. Thanks to our partners YMCA Fairthorne Manor, we now have a relaxing weekend of fun and also the opportunity to play a bigger part in decisions affecting all young carers'.
– Jenny Frank - Young Carers Programme Manager
In 2009, Jenny was awarded an MBE for her services to young carers.
Visit the Include programme's website for more information about the Young Carers Festival.