Spurgeon’s Young Carers Give Their Voices To National Conference

Spurgeon’s Young Carers Give Their Voices To National Conference

Spurgeon’s Young Carers Give Their Voices To National Conference

Four young carers who are supported by Spurgeons attended the Young Carers National Voice event at the University of Birmingham last week, to share their voices and unique experience.

The Young Carers National Voice network is a collection of organisations that work with young carers and they have a consultative role in terms of inputting into policy and strategy.

The network also campaigns to share young carers’ experiences with professionals and ensure they are advocated for on a national level.

A day to be heard and seen

Hugo Sugg, a Spurgeons Young Carers Support Worker, shared how the 4 Spurgeons young carers found the event. ‘They met some new friends, people they’ve spoken to on Zoom, and it was lovely to watch them build up those connections they had made online in person,’ he said. ‘They were given tasks around creating campaigns and what they would like to see in a campaign in 2024. It was really nice to see them participating in that.’

Hugo finds that mental health is a recurring theme that comes up amongst young carers. Not only do young carers carry the weight of responsibility, but they also often struggle in school as a result, and are bullied.

The impact of being a young carer places pressure on all areas of the young person’s life and removes the free-spirited and innocent times that are normal for other children. Research on young carers undertaken recently by the Carer’s Trust showed that young carers often feel they don’t get help with their education, and have difficulty balancing caring with their school work. Worrying about the cost of living is also a factor impacting them.

The need for awareness and action

‘How can we as a society ensure their mental health is looked after and that they’re given the opportunities that other kids are given?’ asks Hugo. ‘This is all whilst appreciating that caring is a really special and amazing thing that they do. Because of the additional responsibilities that they face, say for example measuring out medication, or cooking, one of the biggest things that we find is lack of social time and the isolation that can come with that.

‘Last week I met one of the young people I work with and his mum is completely bed bound- can’t take him anywhere. He doesn’t get out, he doesn’t socialise except in school. He has the added difficulty that his mum is an asylum seeker as well so doesn’t have the recourse to public funds.’

Getting involved in positive experiences like the Young Carer’s National Voice network gives the young people a positive outlet for their stressful lives.

‘It boosts their confidence a bit more and gives them that ability to meet other people away from their usual isolation- so that has an immediate impact,’ says Hugo. ‘They find it really important because they can input into campaigns and policy, so they have a voice. They count it as a privileged position to be in because they’re advocating for all of the YC in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and across the country.’