This morning, along with around a hundred other attendees, I went to the Ramada Maidstone, where Oliver Mills and Graham Badman, Directors respectively for Adult Social Services and Education - celebrated the launch of KCC's Young Carers' Strategy, "Invisible People". In the photo above (from the left), Chris Wells Education Cabinet Member stands with Oliver Mills, Managing Director of Kent Adult Social Services, raham Badman, Managing Director of Children, Families and Education, and myself.
Graham Badman spoke about the close work with voluntary sector partners, and thanked the young people themselves for making sure that "Invisible People" captured the poignancy of being a young carer, and the challenges faced by the public sector in developing their potential. He stressed the importance of them having lives of their own, and being able to achieve what they want for themselves.
He talked of the survey KCC has undertaken in its schools; of the importance of them identifying who their young carers were and what their support needs were. He especially suggested that schools could do more to behave in a 'non-conformist' manner to support the issues young carers regularly face.
But the biggest impact of the event was from a group of young carers, wearing "Face Behind The Label" t shirts. Holding up an 'invisible people' banner, they introduced themselves, then asked society to develop more creative solutions. They stressed the need to build up trust to find the hidden carers; since many families were afraid to admit their children care for Mum or Dad, in case the child is taken into care. Of most impact to me was the number of young carers who - to escape the reality that is their lives - are substance abusing.
Explaining that the credit crunch was affecting vulnerable families, Graham Badman spoke about the need for quality food. Most memorable of all, he suggested that children to deserve their childhood memories. It is incumbent on us all to do what we can to make sure they get the childhood they deserve.