Young carers celebrate £1m lottery grant project launch

On Sunday more than 1000 young carers attempted to smash a world record as they celebrated the launch of a major four-year programme to significantly improve help and support for young carers across England.

The world record, for the most people wearing paper hats, was attempted at the end of the three-day national Young Carers Festival (29 June – 1 July). The previous record stood at 390.

The record-breaking attempt marked the start of Young Carers in Focus (YCiF), a four-year programme Youth in Focus grant by the Big Lottery Fund, which aims to place young carers central to decisions and services that affect their lives. Wearing paper caps, the young carers stood in alignment, spelling ‘YCiF’.

Safe social network for young carers

There are an estimated 139,000* young carers in England – some as young as five years old – who care for an ill parent or relative.

The £1.5 million Young Carers in Focus programme, launched at the festival, is being led by The Children’s Society, in partnership with YMCA Fairthorne Manor, DigitalMe, Rethink Mental Illness, The Fatherhood Institute and The Afiya Trust.

YCiF will include young carers across England, designing and building the first safe social network for young carers on the Radiowaves website. Young carers can take part in a young carer ‘champion’ scheme and receive training and skills through the programme to help raise awareness of the issues they face.

Giving young carers a voice, raising awareness

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society said: ‘We are so very pleased to have received this funding which responds directly to the needs highlighted by young carers themselves. The YCiF project will give them not only a voice, but the confidence and skills to raise professional and general public awareness about the issues affecting them. Announcing this major new grant is a great way to close this wonderful festival and launch our Young Carers in Focus programme.’

Big Lottery Fund’s England Director Dharmendra Kanani said: ‘BIG is committed to supporting young carers, who perform an extremely vital, selfless and widely underestimated role in society. However problems can be hidden and can cost young people dearly at such key stages in their lives. I am pleased this investment will provide the appropriate support to create a pathway for better livelihoods and ensure young carers know they are not alone.’

Young carers set the world record and were photographed wearing paper hats supplied by Arjowiggins Graphic, standing in letters ‘YCiF’, to mark the launch of the Young Carers in Focus programme.