Last year the charity based at Beaverbrooks House supported 666 young carers. Two of these, Catlin and Claire met with Gordon last autumn to chat about how they balanced their caring responsibilities with their education. 48% of all the young carers the charity supported in 2018 were caring for a parent because of substance misuse or mental ill health.
Gordon said: “Blackpool Carers Centre do some excellent work across the town helping young carers. They’ve helped thousands of families over the years. It’s not just the support and guidance they give, but also the opportunities and access to activities young carers might not have the chance to do otherwise.
“When myself and some of our councillors volunteered on the DIY SOS project, it was obvious how much fondness there was for the charity, just from the amount of help and time given by volunteers, businesses and other organisations in Blackpool. This is a testament to their Chief Executive Michelle Smith and her dedicated staff and team of volunteers at Beaverbrooks House.”
Tuesday’s debate was led by Gordon’s Labour colleague Paul Blomfield MP, who spoke about some of the difficulties in identifying the numbers of young carers. Gordon echoed this point and highlighted the University of Nottingham’s research, which found the number of people between the ages of 11 and 16 who acted as carers had more than doubled since a comparable survey in 2010. Both of them also spoke about the role schools and colleges could play in helping young carers.
Gordon added: “When I met with Catlin and Clare they told me how it wasn’t always easy for them to balance the responsibilities of being a carer with their education. I agreed with them that there needs to be far more awareness and support, especially in terms of mental health, for young carers in our education system. But I also think the Government needs to do more, and particularly in terms of bursaries if they choose to go onto further and higher education.”
Faye Atherton, Head of Services at Blackpool Carers said: “We are delighted that young carers were highlighted by Gordon in Westminster yesterday. To have their voices heard and stories told on such an important stage is essential in ensuring that their needs are considered and services are in place to support them.
“The work that we do with young carers in Blackpool is vital in keeping families together and helping children to experience a positive childhood. Thanks goes to Gordon for recognising the importance of support for young carers and in taking forward their views.”
by Andrew Bettridge – Communications Assistant to Gordon Marsden MP
Listen to the debate below: