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Issue 347 – Council U-turn on young carers’ proposals

A decision to postpone budget cuts to the county’s young carers’ service by Somerset County Council, has been welcomed by a Frome mother and daughter.

In our last issue, Frome Times reported that the county council had put forward a proposal that would have cut funding to the young carers’ service by half.
Now, following a meeting between Somerset county cllr John Osman and young carers from across the county, any budgetary decision about the young carers has been postponed for one year.
The young carers currently meet each month at the Vallis Road Youth Centre in Frome, where they receive help and support from team leaders who are trained professionals.
12-year-old Steph Smith has been a carer for her mother, Jennie, for the past four years. Jennie has mobility difficulties and Steph helps her with day-to-day activities and cooking for the family.
Speaking with Frome Times Jennie said, “It’s a great result for the young carers, but at the same time, we know that any budget decision has only been postponed for one year.
“Steph, and other young carers, met with John Osman on Monday (13th February) night. They had a chat about the service. We didn’t have a lot of hope, but now we have another year to potentially help secure funding for the young carers.”
Cllr Osman said, “I’m pleased to announce that following my discussions with young carers over the past few days and weeks, we have listened to what they have said and we want to take pause and take stock.
“I want to work closely with the young carers, their families and supporters to shape a service that will meet their needs, whilst still allowing us to balance the budget.
“Our current service is patchy and we need to improve it to bring better help and support to our young carers who have such an important role. I am committed to seeing this improvement through and will talk with everyone concerned who wants to contribute, to make sure all views are heard and considered.”
Frome Mendip district councillor, Sam Phripp, who used to be a young carer himself, says that while the service is protected for a year, measures need to be put in place now to support the young carers. He told Frome Times, “Yes, cuts have been stopped for now, but we should be looking to support the young carers through fundraising.
“That way, the service could be protected against harsh cuts and now we have a good interim period to talk to young carers about what we can do to help them.
“The fact is, though the decision has been put off, the longer it goes without facing cuts the better it is. The whole objective is to protect the young carers’ service and that seems to be safe for another year.”
Somerset County Council’s young carers support services was set up to support children and young people aged 8-18 years, who have substantial caring responsibilities at home.

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