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Carers Trust launches landmark Young Carers Covenant to transform the lives of over one million children

The Young Carers Covenant is inspired by the Armed Forces Covenant and launched on Young Carers Action Day

·       Organisations can sign up to ensure young carers are identified early for support, live free from poverty and can access education, training and employment opportunities

·       40% of young and young adult carers say they don’t get enough support to balance caring and education

·       50,000 children and young people spend at least 50 hours every week on their caring role, while there are two young carers in every UK classroom

·       Carers Trust calls on UK Government to require all schools to have a young carer lead in place

The UK Government, governments in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, councils, businesses and schools are being urged by UK charity Carers Trust to sign a landmark new commitment that aims to transform the lives of over one million young and young adult carers..

Inspired by the Armed Forces Covenant, the Young Carers Covenant is being launched on Young Carers Action Day (Wednesday 13 March). The day is an annual event led by Carers Trust to raise awareness of young and young adult carers, the challenges they face and their need for far greater support. This year’s Young Carers Action Day theme is Fair Futures for Young Carers.

The Covenant sets out 10 key goals, as well as actions that organisations and individuals can take to help young carers reach their full potential. Drawn up by young carers with support from Carers Trust, the goals range from ensuring young carers are identified at the earliest possible opportunity to making sure they can access training and employment opportunities.

There are more than one million carers aged under 18 in the UK – that’s two pupils in every classroom - and an estimated 600,000 others aged 18 to 25. Many are reliant on local carer organisations for support. At least 50,000 children and young people, including 3,000 aged just five to nine, spend 50 hours or more a week looking after ill or disabled family members.

The time young people spend caring can have a devastating impact on their wellbeing, education and future prospects. A 2023 Carers Trust survey of carers aged under 25 showed 33% always or usually struggle to balance caring with school, college or university work. Two-fifths (40%) said they don’t get the help they need to balance caring and learning.

For those young adult carers who are employed, 45% said they always or usually struggle to balance caring with paid work.

The Young Carers Covenant aims to tackle these issues by asking organisations and individuals to commit to do what they can to make its goals a reality. Organisations who have already signed up include South Tyneside Council and the Queen's Nursing Institute.

Suggested actions include employers committing to more flexible working practices for young adult carers.

Schools and colleges can appoint a member of staff as a young carer lead, tasked with ensuring support is available for them. Carers Trust is calling for the UK Government to make it a requirement for all schools, colleges and universities to have a young carers lead and policy in place.

Carers Trust’s CEO, Kirsty McHugh, said:

“The lives of young carers in the UK are very different to those of their classmates. Many spend time making sure medication is taken by their loved ones, cooking meals and even running household finances. Without proper support, these huge responsibilities can overwhelm young carers and have a devastating impact on their education and future prospects. Having a young carer lead and a policy setting out what support is available in every school would make a huge difference to their lives, helping to identify and support them.

“But it’s up to all of us to help every young and young adult carer reach their potential and have the same opportunities that we want for every child. By signing the Young Carers Covenant, everyone can commit to doing what they can to improve the lives of these young people. From identifying them early to ensuring they can access training, people and organisations across the UK can join the fight for a fairer future for all young carers.”

Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, said:

“As Children’s Commissioner I am committed to supporting all children to have the best possible opportunities especially young carers who face extra responsibilities and pressures.

“When I speak to young carers they tell me they often feel misunderstood and invisible. I have been calling for measures to be introduced for young carers to be identified as early possible and I very much welcome this initiative.”

Anyone in a position to provide support and make a real-life difference to young carers can sign up at www.carers.org/youngcarerscovenant

 

Young carers call for more support from politicians at Westminster, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Alongside the Covenant launch, Young Carers Action Day will be marked with events up and down the UK organised by Carers Trust and its network of local carer organisations.

In Westminster, a group of young carers will meet with MPs, Peers and the Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, David Johnston MP, to seek support for the Covenant.  The group will also hand in an open letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride, calling on the Government to scrap the 21-hour rule for young carers – a rule in the benefit system which means they cannot claim Carer's Allowance if they study for more than 21 hours per week.

Also on 13 March, young carers from across Wales will meet the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan, to discuss issues that matter to them.

In Scotland, young carers will have the opportunity to have their voices heard by politicians and decision makers during a Young Carers Action Day Question Time panel event. On 14 March, more than 50 young carers will tell the Scottish Parliament why the Covenant should be supported.

In Northern Ireland, young carers and young adult carers who have been working with Carers Trust on the Covenant have presented the Covenant to Members of the Legislative Assembly through the All Party Group on Carers.

 

Notes to Editor

For further information, and to arrange interviews with Carers Trust spokespeople and young carer case studies, please contact: 

Mark Chandler, mchandler@carers.org and 07712 427808

Matt Whitticase, mwhitticase@carers.org and 07824 539481

Embargoed copies of the Young Carers Covenant, and a guide detailing actions organisations and individuals can take, are available on request.

 

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