Proposals to provide better support for more young carers will be considered by Somerset County Council’s Cabinet later this month.
There are an estimated 1,750 young carers in Somerset but at any one time the Council’s existing arrangements only support around 150.
On Monday (13 May) Cabinet will decide whether to approve plans that aim to reach more young people and provide them with more support and activities better tailored to their interests and circumstances.
Under the proposals, the current level of Council funding of £248,000 would be maintained and group support would be increased and enhanced. There would also be much greater focus on identifying young carers not currently receiving support, linking with schools and others.
Young carers would have a role in awarding £53,000 of grants to voluntary, charity and community groups to provide activities and group meetings. Those groups would 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.
£75,000 would be made available to help develop a ‘community alliance’ of organisations providing young carers support, while £120,000 would be budgeted for dedicated support to young carers with more complex needs.
The number of group sessions would be increased to four per month in each of the four district areas, with the potential for two extra sessions per month specifically for rural west Somerset. Young carers would have a role in deciding how the sessions are organised.
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.
A spokesperson for Somerset County Council said: “We know there are many young carers out there who aren’t currently getting support. We should be reaching more of them and giving them more options and activities – that’s what these proposals set out to do.
“We’ve seen elsewhere that working with the voluntary and community sector can work really well and that that’s the approach being proposed.”
The report detailing the proposals going to Cabinet can be found on the Council’s website (http://democracy.somerset.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=134&MId=735&Ver=4).