Promoting young carers voices and experiences around the world
To mark Carers Week and the Commonwealth Year of Youth, Carers Trust hosted the first “Young Carers Voices – International Perspectives” webinar on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th June. Organised in partnership with The Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work and individual members of the Young Carers Alliance, this webinar brought together young carers and organisations who support them from around the world to share the experiences of life as a young carer, and the work being done to improve recognition and support for them and their families.
With the entire focus of the event being on the voice of young carers, over the course of the two days, the voices of young carers from 17 countries were heard. These countries were Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, England, France, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Scotland, the USA and Wales. Young carers worked with their national organisations to decide how they wanted to be involved and two young adult carers from England were the hosts for the event. The event also saw contributions from world-leading academic on young carers, Professor Saul Becker, and a message from Oritse Williams – international singer/songwriter, member of the band JLS and a former young carer. Oritse has taken up the role as Commonwealth Young Carers Champion as part of the Commonwealth Year of Youth.
In addition to promoting the voices of young carers, the webinar also gave the opportunity to celebrate the progress made on the development of the first ever Commonwealth Young Carers Charter which has been developed with young carers from countries around the world since 2019. Many of the young carers shared their own perspectives on how they think the covenant, which it is hoped will be signed off at a Commonwealth level in 2024, will be of benefit to young carers in their country.
The webinar was concluded by a group of young carers from Nigeria who talked about their hopes for the future, which included better support in education, support to let them being a child, and most of all equality.
Andy McGowan, Policy and Practice Manager for Young Carers and Young Adult Carers at Carers Trust, said: “It was so powerful and motivating to hear first-hand the voices and experiences of young carers and young adult carers from around the world. What was so striking, both to me and the young carers involved, was that whilst the young carers were from different countries with different financial, political and cultural contexts, there were such clear similarities. Young carers told us how they need better support in schools, they need better recognition of their role and how it can impact them, and they need practical and emotional support.
“But the young carers from Nigeria summed it up perfectly when they finished our event when they said that what they want most, is equality – they want to have the same opportunities available to them as their peers without caring responsibilities.
“It is now the job of the organisations in attendance, governments around the world and individuals to make sure that the voices and experiences of young carers, coupled with the principles outlined in the Commonwealth Young Carers Charter can bring about the change that is needed for young carers and their families.”
Layne Robinson, Head of Social Policy Development for The Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “It was good to see the shared purpose in the webinar illustrating the extraordinary journey of young carers. The Commonwealth stands with you and I expect that the messages from the Young Carer Charter will continue to resonate across the Commonwealth”.
Sylvia Daisy, Chair of the Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work (COSW), said: “This issue has been in the centre of COSW activity since 2005 and we are excited to see the global nature of the partnership making this webinar. We will continue to campaign for the adoption of the Young Carers Charter by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their meeting in Samoa in 2024.”