Funding crisis sees Young Carers staff and services facing axe

Vital services supporting young carers in South Tyneside are at risk as a funding crisis looms over the charity which runs it.

Wednesday, 7th February 2018, 10:19 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th February 2018, 10:20 am
Young Carer Cara Bell, with mum Sarah, and brother Sam.

Young Carers South Tyneside supports more than 300 families in the borough where children and young people aged from five-24 are caring for a family member who is dealing with an illness, disability, addiction problem or mental health difficulties.

Last year, the Gazette reported how local charity South Tyneside TEN had stepped in to take the service under its wing after the future of the service was thrown into doubt.

The Young Carers' office.

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Six staff were transferred to the charity and Big Lottery funding of £280,000 and additional support from South Tyneside Council ensured it would run into 2018.

But now, with funding set to run out this month, bosses have had to take the decision to suspend two key areas provided by the Young Carers - family support and work within schools.

And if cash is not found, it could lead to the loss of three jobs which could put pressure on other services provided by the team.

A number of funding applications are currently awaiting outcomes, including a further application to the Big Lottery.

Young Carers has been described as 'priceless' by those who access the service.

However, TEN Chief Executive Hazel McCallion says there are no guarantee these will be successful.

The families which access the service across South Tyneside have been notified of the decisions.

Funding from other charitable trusts has allowed the team to continue with their programme of activities, including after-school clubs.

Hazel McCallion said: “Following the meeting with the council and considering that decisions from other external potential funders are some months away and even then, not guaranteed, the trustees felt TEN had no option but to write to the hundreds of families we are actively engaged with, to inform them of the suspension to the important work we do directly with families and also within schools.

Best of South Tyneside Awards 2017. Carer of the Year Award winner Jayne Plummer, presented by Chris Slater.

“We recognise that this will be a tremendous blow but there is no alternative.

“The activities programme will continue, however, it may be that it will be a reduced programme due to a reduction in the number of staff available. It is an area which will have to be reviewed and rethought to enable us to deliver the ratio of staff to children.

“We know this is going to have a massive and significant impact on the family of young carers, certainly around the one to one support that will be available.

“It is a vital service. The work they do with the family and the young carers enables them to have a childhood but also helps them to continue in their caring role.”

Young Carer Cara Bell.

Hazel, who along with the vice chair of trustees, Paul Phyall, met with South Tyneside Council, to alert them of the funding crisis added: “The Young Carers team were all transferred across from Carers Association in South Tyneside when the charity was wound down.

“While three posts will be made redundant, it is our aim to keep a core service in place until such time that additional funding becomes available and we will continue to provide young carers assessments which are commissioned by South Tyneside Council and the activities programme, which has recently been funded by Children in Need.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “The council prioritises support to young carers and there are no changes to council-funded services delivered by TEN.

“However, it is very disappointing that the Big Lottery grant funding has come to an end, reducing the enhanced range of services that TEN have been able to offer to families.

“We will do everything we can to support TEN in their bid to access alternative funding streams to try sustain these additional services for the future.

“With the public sector facing unprecedented financial challenges as a result of national government cuts, we are committed to working with our third sector organisations to help them access the funding they need to continue their valued work in the borough.”

The Young Carers' office.

The service currently has more than 1,000 young carers registered and over 370 children and young people actively involved in all activities, family support and school programmes.

Referrals come from local schools, social care and health services and voluntary organisations.

Young carers experience isolation, loneliness, stress, anxiety and many face bullying, miss significant schooling and have low educational attainments. Without support, young carers can develop long-lasting emotional and behavioural issues.

The Young Carers service provides early identification and intervention, offering vital support young carers need to deal with these issues and to allow them and their families to have a significantly improved quality of life.

‘YOUNGSTERS WILL GET LOST IN THE SYSTEM’

A young carer who now helps other youngsters in South Tyneside fears for the future of the charity that was there for her.

Jayne Plummer was 12-years-old when she first came to the attention of South Tyneside Young Carers.

From the age of seven she had been caring for her mum, Yvonne Spencer, who suffers from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

Now aged 19, Jayne volunteers at the charity helping other young people who have taken on the caring role within their family.

But a recent funding crisis, which could see three members of staff being made redundant, has left the teenager concerned for the future of the charity and other young carers.

Jayne, who won Carer of the Year award at the Best of South Tyneside Awards last year, said: “I have been coming to young carers since I was 12. If this funding is lost and these services are no longer able to be in place, young carers will get lost in the system.

“Through the years, I have been given so much emotional and practical support that when I was old enough I wanted to become a volunteer and give something back.

“If it wasn’t for the young carers I would have lost all of my childhood, all I would have been was a young carer and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go bowling, to the cinema, things other young people take for granted. But there is also the emotional support there for you too.

“The services the young carers provide, not just to the young people but to their families is so important and losing up to three members of staff, is going to have an impact on other areas.

“When I was at school I was really emotional. But workers from young carer’s helped me and they spoke to teachers for me. They helped me to get through it.

“They helped me to be able to carry on with my schooling. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.

“Young Carers is so priceless and I would hate to think a child or young person caring for a family member is going to miss out on the amazing support I received.”

SERVICE MEANS SO MUCH TO CARA

A South Shields schoolgirl who helps care for her mum says she has been left sad at news a vital school support network provided by young carers has been axed..

Cara Bell, eight, is calling on people to get behind the service which she says “means a lot” to her.

The youngster began to attend sessions put on by young carers a year ago after her mum Sarah was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2014.

Since then, her mum says with the help of the service her daughter has become a new person with increased confidence.

Sarah, who lives with husband Geoff, said: “Being with the Young Carers has brought Cara on so well. She was absolutely devastated when I told her she would no longer have the support at school.

“Since joining Young Carers she has had someone go into the school once a fortnight to support her and she looked forward to those sessions.

“When I became ill, Cara started to have a bit of hard time at school, she was very emotional and she didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere as she was so worried about me.

“But within a few months of being with Young Carers, she is like a different child. She loves going places and it’s nice to know that she isn’t missing out on anything by caring for me.

“These services being cut and activities being run at a reduced rate, it is going to be the children who suffer. There has to be something that can be done.”

Cara, who attends St Peter and Paul’s Primary School in South Shields, helps her mum with the housework, and helps look after her younger brother Sam, who is four, when her mum is ill.

Next year, Sam will also be old enough to attend Young Carers.

She said: “I feel sad no one will be coming in to see me at school. I like going to Young Carers and look forward to them coming into school.

“We do a lot at Young Carers and I talk to other people. When they come into school, it gives me someone to talk to, we colour in and do word searches. It means a lot to me.

“If someone can help them, please help.”

Young Carers has been described as 'priceless' by those who access the service.
Best of South Tyneside Awards 2017. Carer of the Year Award winner Jayne Plummer, presented by Chris Slater.
Young Carer Cara Bell.