A new approach that aims to expand and improve support for young carers was approved by Somerset County Council’s Cabinet yesterday.
The plans, which have been drawn-up following meetings with young carers, were approved unanimously. They aim to reach more young people, working with and funding the voluntary and community sector provide them with more support and activities.
There are an estimated 1,750 young carers in Somerset but at any one time the Council’s existing arrangements only support around 150. The decision taken yesterday will maintain the current level of funding of £248,000 and see a focus on identifying young carers not currently receiving support, linking with schools and others.
Young carers will have a key role in deciding how the group sessions and activities are organised, as well as the distribution of £53,000 of grants to voluntary, charity and community groups to provide activities.
These voluntary organisations and groups will also be able to access other sources of funding not open to the Council, helping them fund more activities. Research shows there are up to 20 funding sources they should be eligible to apply to on behalf of young carers.
A sum of £75,000 is being made available to help develop a ‘community alliance’ of organisations providing young carers support, while £120,000 will be budgeted for dedicated support to young carers with more complex needs.
A spokesperson for Somerset County Council said: “We’re confident that these arrangements will enable us to support more young carers and support them better.
“We’ve seen elsewhere that working with the voluntary and community sector can work really well and that is what we want to see happen here.”
In September last year, the Council’s Cabinet deferred a decision on the future of support for young carers. This was to allow detailed proposals to be worked-up about how it could be redesigned and establish the capacity of the voluntary sector to provide this kind of support.
In the meantime, existing support and activities have continued. Workshops and events have also taken place with young carers to understand what’s important to them, and with voluntary organisations and interest groups to see what they may be able to provide.
The report detailing the proposals considered by Cabinet can be found on the Council’s website (http://democracy.somerset.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=134&MId=735&Ver=4)