Young Carers and Participation

The following blog has been written by our new Young Carers Champion Apprentice Laura, and she has only been here a week!! Excellent read we are looking forward to many more blogs on young carers issues from her.

Importance of participation

Fundamentally, participation matters because young people have the right to have their voice heard:

“When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account.” Article 12, UN Convention on the Rights of a Child.

The UK ratified this convention in 1991 and thus, all decisions made by adults that affect young people must have allowed for young people to express their opinions on the matter and then adults must consider those opinions.

Participation is more than that, with effective participation you give young people the opportunity to not just give their opinion but to shape, influence and fully contribute to decisions that affect them. It makes sense – why wouldn’t you ask those who will be affected most the best way of doing things? Surely, they have the most experience of what could work? Or, sometimes more importantly, what doesn’t work?

For young carers, it’s extremely important that they have the opportunity to shape, influence and fully contribute to decisions that affect them. Young carers experience health services, education and general life very differently to any other young person and even more differently to most adults. Whilst they have the same experience as adult carers in doing things on behalf of someone else, unlike adult carers, they face many difficulties due to age restrictions. Their experience is totally unique, and so their opinions must be taken into account and their ideas must fully contribute to the shaping of services and in decisions that will affect them, even if the impact is small.

Here at Salford Carers Centre, we are constantly creating opportunities for young carers to participate and get their views across. We have a Board of Young Carers who champion young carers issues, they have recently submitted 6 motions to go on the Greater Manchester Youth Manifesto, with hope that the regions elected Mayor will take these items into account in their term as Mayor. With complete power over health & social care, it’s vital this new mayor not just listens but seeks the opinions of young carers when reshaping Greater Manchester’s services. Devolution gives us a massive chance in Greater Manchester to radically improve the lives of young carers by making health services work for and with them, and the best way to do that is to ask them what needs changing.

Next Thursday, the Young Carers Board will be meeting with Paul Dennett (Salford City Mayor), Cllr Lisa Stone (Lead Member of Salford City Council for Children and Young People) and Paul Moran (Manager of Salford Carers Centre) for a Question Time style event. The Board have been busy preparing questions and discussion points to pose to these three people, whose decisions have a massive influence on young carer’s lives. This is a fantastic opportunity for the board to let adult decision makers know exactly what needs to change - we can’t wait to update the blog on the outcomes of this meeting.

Participation is fundamentally important because all young people have a right to be heard. But for young carers, effective participation opportunities from services willing to listen are needed more than ever; we are about to see a big change in the way things are run in Greater Manchester and young carers must have a voice in that conversation. Salford Young Carers Board is absolutely ready to give their opinions but are politicians and services ready to listen?