New Policy Forum to help young adult carers into learning

10 June 2013

To ensure that young adult carers (aged 16 – 25) are given the opportunity to take part in education, training and employment, representatives from Government and high profile charities will be working together as part of a new National Policy Forum, announced today at the start of Carers Week (10 – 16 June).

The Forum – which is being chaired and administered by NIACE until March 2014 – will include experts from the Carers Trust and Barnardo’s, senior representatives from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department for Education, the Department of Health, the Department for Work and Pensions, Skills Funding Agency and the Standing Commission on Carers, alongside two young adult carers.

NIACE’s role administering the National Policy Forum has developed from a targeted programme of work focussed around improving access to learning for young adult carers that started in 2007.  Fundamental to this work has been the voice of young adult carers in driving the agenda forward.  In January 2013, at a joint NIACE/Carers Trust policy seminar delivered in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal, a number of young adult carers urged NIACE and its partners to take action to secure better access to learning for young adult carers:

“Education providers often don’t realise that we’re carers and don’t understand the pressure we are under.  This work is really important in raising awareness and ensuring that education providers and support agencies give young adult carers the help they need and are entitled to.” (Michelle, 19, young adult carer)

“Being a carer is a challenge, but you can’t lie down and let it walk all over you. There needs to be more awareness and support for young adult carers – teachers and other staff need to know about caring and how it affects us – they need to listen, understand and help us out.” (Louise, 24, young adult carer)

Carol Taylor, Director for Research and Development at NIACE said:

“The work of this new National Policy Forum is vital as recent figures show that the number of young adult carers has increased by 25% since 2001.  Because caring dominates their lives these young people are far more likely to not be in education, employment or training than their peers. They also face a range of difficulties and disadvantage, including poverty, isolation and physical and mental health difficulties which have consequences for them, and their families, throughout their lives.”

“We are delighted to be working with young adult carers, strategic partners and policymakers to help these young people get the opportunities they both need and want. We’re confident that the Forum will help to make a real difference in raising awareness, improving policy and ensuring that young adult carers are supported to have a life of their own, develop high aspirations and achieve their potential.”