Spurgeons’ Young Carers Manager contributes to parliament inquiry

o Martin, Spurgeons Young Carers manager, smiling at the camera at a young carers event.

Spurgeons’ Young Carers Manager contributes to parliament inquiry 

Spurgeons’ Jo Martin contributed to a first-of-its-kind inquiry launched by MPs to examine the impact of caring responsibilities on the life chances of young carers and young adult carers, including their education and employment prospects. 

On Thursday 7th September, in the company of MPs Duncan Baker and Paul Bloomfield at an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and Professor Saul Becker, Spurgeons Children Services Manager Jo Martin shared her extensive experience working with young people and young carers. 

Every aspect of a young carer’s life is impacted, from school attainment to attendance, and including bullying, loneliness and managing household debt,’

Jo Martin - Young Carers Manager

The pressure on young carers 

Jo was able to bring to the inquiry invaluable knowledge and experience of day-to-day practice delivering a service to young carers including shedding light on how the cost-of-living crisis worsens caring responsibilities.

Jo explained how the young people she works with have a caring role, but are still impacted by the stresses and strains of being a young person in the modern world. 

‘If you’re a young carer with your own mental health issue and you are on an 18-month waiting list for counselling or mental health services, not only is it having an impact on you, but potentially it’s having an impact on your caring role and therefore on the person that you are caring for as well,’ she says. 

Caring for a family member changes young people’s lives. Although there can often be positive outcomes from caring e.g. developing life skills, resilience and empathy, Jo is struck by the impact that caring can have role on their schooling, on their mental health, on their social interactions, on their aspirations, and even their university choices.

‘For a lot of young carers, they feel that responsibility to stay close to home. And whilst that might not have a direct impact on their university course or studies, we know that a big part of university is living away from home and having that freedom and making those new friends,’ she says. Jo shared these stories with the committee, giving a voice to the young carers in Birmingham 

Jo Martin, Spurgeons Young Carers manager, giving a talk and who recently contributed to a Parliament inquiry

Identifying young carers 

As part of the APPG Jo and others in her industry were asked to reflect on whether a child now was more likely to be identified as a young carer than they were 30 years ago. Jo reported seeing some improvement over the last 30 years, however the group had worries this is now stagnating.

This year for the first time the school census has recorded the numbers of carers within a school community. However, Jo suggested that the recorded numbers of young carers remain a ‘huge underestimation’ in part due to a lack of knowledge and understanding from schools of what a young carer looks like. 

Jo also believes that schools are already spread thin by increasing needs, including looking after the number of young people involved in gangs and crime, young people impacted by social care, youths impacted by mental health, as well as academic grades, attainment and attendance.  

The group talked at length about what happens next once a young carer is identified and Jo’s experience provided a valuable insight into how funding gaps exist and how limited the statutory requirement is.

The only right a young carer currently has is to an assessment, and the assessment isn’t standardised. Depending where in the country a young carer lives, they will find different support levels on offer, and with further cuts to local authority spending this postcode lottery could worsen. 

Jo’s contribution to the APPG will inform the report due out towards the end of the year. 

In addition to be part of this APPG Inquiry, Spurgeons also support young carers to be part of National Young Carers Voice Network, attend the National Young Carers Alliance Meetings and are also part of the new National Young Carers Strategic Oversight Group. 

Related articles from Spurgeons

View all
A huge ”Thank You!” to Spurgeons supporters from our Young Carers
Smiling young woman, illustrating the gratitude for Spurgeons supporters.
A huge ”Thank You!” to Spurgeons supporters from our Young Carers
Karaoke, rides and silent discos: How one festival provides life-changing freedom for Young Carers
A fireworks display at the Young Carers Festival
Karaoke, rides and silent discos: How one festival provides life-changing freedom for Young Carers
Challenging year prompts an inspirational act of kindness for young carer, Chloe
A smiling photo of Chloe, a Young Carer
Challenging year prompts an inspirational act of kindness for young carer, Chloe