The charity supports family carers of all ages to feel visible, valued, supported and connected. It was among the first carers’ charities to develop and implement a Young Carers School Award.
Suffolk Family Carers identified two main issues. First, there are many hidden carers. Young carers do not readily self-identify and therefore remain hidden and unknown to services. Therefore, its first objective was to encourage young carers to self-identify.
Its second objective was to put in place support for young carers. Evidence suggests that caring has a significant impact on many young people, including on their physical and mental health, social interactions, educational outcomes and employment opportunities. Indeed, one in 20 miss school because of their caring role, and this figure could be higher for certain age groups.
The charity decided to work in partnership with schools to co-produce a model that would suit local needs. Its Young Carers School Award was introduced in 2013.
Its reach has grown exponentially and the charity now has a well-developed relationship with all further education colleges, 42 out of the 45 high schools and 82 of the 255 primary schools across Suffolk. Since September 2020, five more primary schools and one high school have expressed an interest in the award.
In 2018/19, the charity received 537 referrals for young carers. Schools and colleges generated 55% of these referrals. From a survey undertaken in 2018, 83% of young carers that responded said that they accessed support in school and 78% said that this support had helped them.
There are now 1,913 young carers aged five to 16 years registered with the charity, of which 562 are nine or younger. A study by the University of Suffolk in 2020 found that parents said their children that engaged with the programme “felt proud to be a young carer and displayed increased self-esteem and confidence”.
Charity Awards judge Richard Hawkes described it as a “really uplifting programme” which had attracted credible support from several organisations. Chris Sherwood agreed that it was a “joined up, systemic approach to a hidden problem”.
CC Reg no. 1069937