First ever national Young Carers Futures Conference aims to help change lives of one million young people
The first ever national Young Carers Futures Conference has taken place in Manchester, aiming to help transform the lives of one million children and young people who care for family and friends.
The sold-out event at the Etihad Stadium on 16th October was run by the Young Carers Alliance, a network of over 185 organisations and 500 individuals, and hosted by national charity Carers Trust.
It brought together 200 people including professionals, academics and young people themselves to discuss how to create a step change for young and young adult carers.
One young carer, 18-year-old Jordyn, told the conference: “We deserve to be seen, heard and looked after, the way we fight so hard to do for other people.”
Speakers at the event included Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, who talked about making young carers a priority. She also heard from young carers directly about the difficulties they face in finding support for their wellbeing, education and future employment.
The conference also featured recorded contributions from the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, and the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Bridget Phillipson.
Other speakers included world-leading academic on young carers, Professor Saul Becker from Manchester Metropolitan University; Movement to Work CEO, Gillian Churchill; Youth Futures Foundation CEO, Barry Fletcher; and Head of the Department for Education’s Children in Need Outcome Policy Unit, Andrew Baxter.
There are an estimated one million carers aged under 18 in the UK and many more young adult carers aged under 25. Research released by Carers Trust earlier this year shows the weight of their role is increasing, with more than half (56%) spending more time caring than before, and nearly half (47%) now caring for more people than they used to.
The Young Carers Futures Conference comes in a year when young carers have been included for the first time in the English school census and have been added to UCAS applications. Work is also underway at Carers Trust to develop the first Young Carers Covenant, a UK-wide commitment to all young carers and young adult carers.
The first ever parliamentary inquiry into how caring affects young people’s life opportunities has also taken place this year. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Young Carers and Young Adult Carers will publish its final report on the inquiry next month.
Andy McGowan, Carers Trust’s Policy and Practice Manager for Young and Young Adult Carers, who is also the Young Carers Alliance co-ordinator, said:
“This has been a landmark year for young carers and our conference kept the momentum going. Research shows caring continues to have a significant impact on the wellbeing, education and life opportunities of so many young people. After coming together in Manchester, we aim to move the dial on the issues affecting young carers, support them to achieve their full potential and ultimately help change their lives.”