This week Radio Four has been covering the issues related to young carers. They published a report today which showed that there are four times more young carers in the UK than are officially recognised.
One in 12 of the 4,029 schoolchildren asked by the BBC said they had caring responsibilities – such as dressing, washing or bathing family members.
On their web site they ran a story about Leigh is a young carer who looks after, mum, Kristy who separated from Leigh’s father when she was still a toddler. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11745231
Around that time, she was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, also known as manic depression. It sets out what Leigh has to do – it is beyond my imagination to have such a responsible role at such a young age and to miss out on childhood but that is the story of many young carers.
In a BBC interview David Cameron warns Local Councils against cutting funds for children who care for parents or siblings but he goes onto say that council, which face 7% budgets each year for the next four years, are responsible for their own funding decisions.
When faced with real people it is always easier to call for councils to protect their funding but Mr Cameron puts Councils in a difficult position it is hard to imagine how, when faced with such server funding cuts, that those services which support young carers won’t be affected.
With local democracy it is right that local discussions are made locally but in an environment of funding cuts do our local democratic processes allow a voice to those most vulnerable to ensure that the decisions that are made are fair?
I have once before mentioned the work of the Carers Associations and I am always impressed with the Princes Royal Trust for Carers here in Sutton and they work hard, not only to support young carers, but also to give them a voice into service planning http://www.youngcarers.net. I hope they are listened to!