Posted: 06 March 2014

Celebrating change for young carers

We held an event with MPs, ministers and a dozen young carers, to celebrate new legal rights we all secured for young carers, and to galvanise the enthusiasm needed to build on this achievement in the future.

Held in Westminster on 25 February, other organisations in the National Young Carers Coalition joined us to celebrate our campaigning over the past decade to achieve the changes to the children and families bill. These changes will give young carers a legal right to an assessment of their needs. Before this change, carers under the age of 16 were not entitled to a needs assessment in their own right. 

These assessments are crucial because while the census tells us there are more than 166,000 young carers in England, this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg. We know from our research contained in our Hidden from View report that they are no more likely than their peers to come into contact with support agencies. This vulnerable group of children are overlooked and unrecognised even though they demonstrate resilience beyond their years. 

Giving young carers a voice

The event gave young carers, who have been involved in our Young Carers in Focus programme, the chance to question a panel of MPs including Robert Buckland, Paul Burstow and Barbara Keeley on the policies and decisions that affect every part of their lives.

The young people displayed ambition, skill and character – qualities that are so often overlooked in our young carer population.

This delivered an important message – we need to give weight to these reforms by making sure that through detailed guidance and best practice professionals listen to what young carers have to say.

Working together

With compelling speeches from Edward Timpson, the Children's Minister, and Norman Lamb, Minister of State at the Department of Health, this event really highlighted the importance of working across departments and political parties to protect the welfare of vulnerable children. These are children who are shouldering the burden of funding cuts and austerity measures.

The legal right to assessment is just one step in a long journey. All pledged continuing commitment to achieving the next milestone for young carers: sufficient support. Together, we're working to make sure everyone is aware of young carers, and are able to give them the support they need to achieve at school, make friends and enjoy their childhood.

By Rebecca Young - Policy team

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