As I know you will agree, all unpaid carers, including young carers, are incredible people who work hard to ensure that their loved ones receive the best possible care and that they can still live their lives to the fullest. I realise how difficult it can be therefore for carers to see to their own needs and to have respite from thinking or worrying about the person that they care for, often to the detriment of their own mental and physical wellbeing.
I appreciate that for some people caring for their loved ones can be a full time job as there is not enough support or enough awareness of the support that is available to carers. Carers across the UK are saving the Government, especially the NHS, millions of pounds a year but yet don’t receive the recognition that they deserve.
In Sheffield alone there are over 50,000 carers, over 7,000 of these are young carers. Many access the support that is out there through the Sheffield Carers Centre, or the Sheffield Young Carers Project, but there are thousands more who won’t be receiving the support that they are entitled to or may not even know that they are a carer.
As you may know, in February I joined Sheffield Carers Centre in launching a month-long initiative to find hidden carers in Gleadless Valley and help them to access support. The campaign was supported by a wide variety of groups including Heeley City Farm, Sheffield Young Carers, the Gleadless Valley Foodbank, several local churches and local councillors and there was a number of events that took place across Gleadless Valley including coffee mornings, a professionals and volunteers training event, and a Carers Workshop.
On Carer’s Rights Day in November 2017 I was invited, along with the other Sheffield MPs to an event that was run by the Lord Mayor, Cllr Anne Murphy, and Sheffield Young Carers, which was one of the then Lord Mayor’s chosen charities. There we heard from young carers, who were part of the Action Group run by Sheffield Young Carers, on some of the daily issues they face. I was concerned to hear that some of these young carers have to choose between using money to go to school or to pay bills and make sure there is food on the table.
As a result of this myself and Paul Blomfield MP pledged to make sure that young carers get the support and recognition that they deserve on a local and national level starting with asking South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and the Cabinet Member for Transport to look into providing young carers in Sheffield with a free bus travel so they don’t have to choose between paying bills and going to school, and they also get the chance to have a social life. You can show your support and sign the petition here.
I am pleased that some of the young carers, who I met at the event, have had the chance to present their concerns directly to the Prime Minister.
All carers need support at some point, and if that support is not there then this can have a serious impact on their own physical and mental health. What we need to make sure is that everyone is aware of carers and young carers in all settings, but also to make sure that the agencies such as Sheffield Carers Centre and Sheffield Young Carers, are given the resources that they need to carry on supporting carers.
I can assure you that I will keep pushing the Government to make sure that that services who support all carers are given the resources and funding to make sure that carers receive the best possible support they can. Carers do so much for their loved ones, the economy and the Government and its high time the Government gave something back.