Young carers raise concerns about cuts to Norfolk’s head of children’s services

Young carers yesterday set out their concerns about the impact of council cuts to the head of Norfolk's children's services department yesterday.

Members of the Norfolk Young Carers Forum held a meeting with Lisa Christensen at County Hall yesterday to seek assurances that they will be consulted on any decisions which could hit support for carers.

The 60-minute session comes a week after members of the council's ruling cabinet agreed to recommend a budget package which will see �60m of cuts in the coming 12 months including ending funding for youth services.

sparking fears that support

Samuel Pearson, 15, from Sheringham, who cares for his mum, said that he worried how young carers would manage if the cuts were imposed.

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'This organisation has helped me so much and I don't know where I would be, if it wasn't for them,' he said. 'I wouldn't be at school, and I wouldn't be able to do anything.

'You can't just chop off the funds, there's got to be other ways,' he added. 'There have been recessions before and we have always found a way out. Leaving it until we get to a crisis just isn't right.'

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Zoe Webb, from Norwich, who cares for both of her parents, said: 'It will just make it harder to cope. We have got someone to talk to about any problems we have, and they don't understand how much harder it is for people who are 14 and 15 years old.

Jo Brown, Forum participation worker at Crossroads Norfolk young carers project, said there was a concern among many young carers that could be caught in a pincer movement of dwindling services for the relatives they are looking after and less support for themselves.

'The overriding concern is that they understand there is less money, but they are anxious the money there is, is used effectively,' Ms Brown said. 'They are concerned that they are in a position where they are being asked to do more with less support at a time when the support for the person they are caring for is being withdrawn, which is a worry.'

Ms Christensen, said that final decisions about funding would only be known once the council had set its budget on February 14, but she was 'cautiously optimistic' the one-to-one support services, which also receives funding from NHS Norfolk, would be in place for at least another 12 months after health chiefs indicated they would like it to continue.

Another issue, which she had agreed to look at, was what happens when a young carer turns 18, and how they can continue to access support.

'They are a remarkable group of people. I was incredibly impressed by their positive attitude,' she said. 'Obviously they are concerned about the overall level of funding available, but what we have been able to say is that there are different parcels of money, and we have got some contracts we signed last year, which are three year contracts.

'I am cautiously optimistic that we will be able to maintain levels of funding as the same levels as last year, and I know the health service has made a commitment to maintain the same levels of funding,' she added. 'But obviously nothing is certain until after the council has made its decisions on February 14.'

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