An annual event for young carers to have fun, unwind, make new friends and try new things  

Young carers festival

The annual Young Carers’ Festival (YCF) is the biggest gathering of young carers’ in the world with up to 1600 young carers attending this amazing event annually. The Festival is organised in partnership by The Children’s Society and YMCA Fairthorne Group.

The Young Carers Festival gives young carers the chance to enjoy a break from their responsibilities, make new friends, and have their voices heard about the issues that affect them and their families.

Importantly, this festival continues to help us to understand and address the varied and multiple disadvantages, and hidden vulnerabilities that young carers face during their childhoods and in their transition into adulthood.  

Over the last eighteen years, young carers attending the festival have informed consultations regarding a huge range of issues including their education, health, social care and the support needed for those they care for and the whole family.

The impact of young carers coming together in this way has created a powerful and united voice about the issues they face and has provided a political platform to influence and inform national and local policy. 


The Voice Zone: influencing change

Over the years, we have consulted young people on a range of issues including education, health, social care and whole family support.  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 there are changes to legislation, policy and guidance concerning young carers.

These young people's participation has informed the content of two major pieces of legislation, the Children and Families Act and the Care Act 2014 and the Government's Cross-Department Carers Action Plan.

Plus, they have helped shape major pieces of research lead by The Children’s Society regarding the vulnerabilities of young people today.

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 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 MBE - Former Young Carers Programme Manager



United Kingdom