Last week, I was delighted to see my petition calling for young carers to receive free bus travel submitted to Sheffield Council. The petition was organised in partnership with local charity Sheffield Young Carers and was signed by over 2000 people.
Gaby, who works in my office and is a young carer herself, went to the Town Hall with other carers to submit our petition to the Council in person. I was really pleased and proud to see that the local Councillors gave all the young carers a well-deserved standing ovation.
There are an estimated 7,300 young carers under the age of 18 in Sheffield. The average age of a young carer is just 12, with many providing care from a much younger age. These children and young people provide unpaid care for family members who have a long-term physical illness, a disability, mental health issues, or substance misuse issues. By providing free care, these young people save the Government billions of pounds each year.
Young carers have to travel more than their peers to do shopping, to accompany family members to medical appointments, and to take their siblings to places. At the same time, being able to travel freely and have a social life is so vital for young people regardless of caring responsibilities.
Young carers give so much to help their loved ones and it’s time they got something in return. Other local authorities have managed to get travel schemes in place for their young carers, so Sheffield can do it too.