On Saturday 14th May, Sheffield hosted the Yorkshire and Humberside regional sitting of the UK Youth Parliament. Harry along with fellow MYPs from Sheffield led the day’s events which consisted of launching the region’s enhanced campaign to support Young Carers, debating the future of the project and a Question and Answer session with local MPs and Councillors.
In recent meetings of the region’s MYPs, the decision was taken to expand the brief that the campaign to support Young Carers would cover. The commitment to a Young Carers’ identity card existed since March 2010 when the original campaign began. At a vote of the region’s MYPs held during the March Residential 2011, the Young Carers’ campaign was chosen to become the focus for the year ahead. The revitalised campaign would be backed in every constituency in Yorkshire and Humberside and funding would be sought from Local Information Networks (LINKs). It was decided that the project would also work on areas of support other than the I.D card.
At the Saturday sitting, these additional areas were discussed in a debate of MYPs, which Harry chaired. A strategy to localise the campaign was accepted by the region’s representatives, to suit the needs of each individual constituency’s Young Carers. Those areas that have achieved an ID Card, will now explore these additional areas of support. One suggestion was to adopt a policy of producing an advisory booklet for Young Carers themselves, which would give information on common illnesses suffered by those they care for.
The premise on which this campaign was re-elected, was a response to the lack of a national government network of support and the fact that Young Carers are not yet given enough precedence in parliament today. UKYP as a charity and as a campaign group is stepping up to address this issue. At the sitting Harry and MYPs secured a commitment from MPs David Blunkett and Paul Blomfield to back the Carers (Support and Identification Bill), which is currently passing through parliament. The Private Member’s Bill, put forward by Barbara Keeley MP, is due for second reading on the 25th November 2011. Julie Dore, the newly elected leader of Sheffiled City Council promised to promote the current pilot scheme of Young Carers’ ID Cards to schools across the city. David Blunkett stated that he would put forward the necessity of identifying and looking after young carers in an upcoming meeting with Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham MP. In a recent meeting with Andy Burnham, Harry raised the issue of young carers needing greater support now that grant funded council services were being cut by the Coalition.
“Young carers display a maturity beyond their age and are one of the most deserving groups in our society in terms of receiving support from the government. I believe the great progress achieved by the Youth Parliament today has ensured that the issue of Young Carers is kept on the minds of those at the heart of Westminster. The promising commitments we’ve received from MPs and Sheffield City Council are evidence of UKYP and social activists making a difference, a change for good”
Harry also took the opportunity to advance other initiatives he is involved with as a social activist and an MYP. In conversation with Julie Dore, he discussed his challenge for the Labour council, and the need to respond to the feeling of marginalisation of young people in the city. Julie agreed to continue a dialogue with Harry and the Sheffield’s Youth Parliament members, and proposed a meeting in the near future to begin working together.