Local MPs and city councillors have joined forces with Sheffield Young Carers (SYC) to bring about much-needed change for children and young people with caring responsibilities in Sheffield.
After meeting with young carers from SYC’s Action Group (the local charity’s voice and influence group for young carers), MP for Sheffield Heeley Louise Haigh was very moved and wanted to take forward two of their key concerns: the high travel costs that young carers face due to all the extra appointments and caring tasks they have to do; and the limited chances they have to get a break and enjoy leisure time like other children their age.
To respond to this, she launched a campaign for free travel for young carers, saying:
“Young carers give up so much to help others, often from a very young age, and it’s only right they’re provided with some support in their own lives too. We have thousands of young carers in Sheffield and they’re all too often forgotten.
“Travel concessions for carers vary hugely across the country, and some councils work with transport authorities to give young carers a free travel pass, allowing them to get to and from school and their caring responsibilities without added financial worry – this is a scheme Sheffield should absolutely get behind.”
Louise also worked with Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure, Councillor Mary Lea, to involve Sheffield City Council, Sheffield International Venues (SIV), Places for People and the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) to see how they could help. Recognising how hard school holidays can be for young carers, SIV and Places for People put on brilliant activity days for young carers in June and have also kindly offered SYC members free swimming, tennis and ice skating during the six-week summer holidays, as well as discounted leisure access for a whole year.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council said:
“Young carers spend a lot of time supporting others and often suffer from financial hardship. It’s really important that we offer them some support to access sport and leisure provision in our city. Exercise is directly linked to our physical and mental wellbeing and our young carers need to look after themselves as well as those they care for.”
Young carers from SYC are so happy that they have been listened to and plan to continue working in partnership with their local MPs and Sheffield City Council to bring about positive change for young carers, both here in Sheffield and all over the UK.
As one young carer commented after meeting Louise Haigh MP:
“It was amazing! It felt like she had known us for ages – she really listened.”
To find out more about Sheffield Young Carers, or if you or someone you know is a young carer, please call 0114 258 4595 or visit www.sheffieldyoungcarers.org.uk to sign up for quarterly news updates.
To sign Louise Haigh’s petition for free travel for young carers, please visit: louisehaigh.nationbuilder.com/carerstravel