Written by current IARS student Sara Senegri

The Young Carers Matter Project conference – 23rd April 2018.

The Young Carers Matter Project conference was an insightful talk exploring the normalization of young carers, the support available to them and the barriers they face to education and employment.

The project sought to engage young carers from BAME groups and try to overcome their barriers to employment, as well as empower young carers and enhance their skills. The project showed the key finding that young carers have the same ambitions as others, but they are faced with many social and physical barriers that prevent them. The young people trained preferred academics, seeing education as a route to employability. It was found that older carers were actively employed but wanted to gain more experience and work in a field that suited them and their future aspirations (the financial sector being a popular one).

Many of the speakers showed that young carers lacked confidence in their skills. The truth however is that young carers have important skills, like time management, multitasking and planning, which benefit a workplace and an employer greatly. The speakers also provided a great insight into the policies that can help young carers and young adult carers to reach their goals and overcome challenges. By promoting the individual and making them aware of their human and employment rights, the young person can achieve many more things. The project also helped in increasing the awareness of employers of the skills developed by young carers – allowing for more employment opportunities.

I noticed that identity was a theme that many of the speakers explored. A young carer and young adult carer may choose their family over a career, enduring physical and mental strain and identifying themselves as a ‘carer’, rather than who they are in relation to the person they are caring for. A person from the audience thought of this to be a positive thing, saying that young carers may see themselves as a part of a ‘club’ which only they can join because they are special. Another speaker however explored the lack of provision in schools for mental health and young carers themselves – which might not accommodate to this ‘club’ – making ‘schoolphobia’ a great problem for these young carers and young adult carers.

In all, the conference made me understand the ‘branding’ of carers and how employers may see them whilst also showing me how skilled and resilient young carers are – making it a very valuable experience.

IARS International Institute will be publishing our final report on the project soon - watch this space