I love the energy and passion that young people bring to political discussion. It is always a tonic to hear their ideas and enthusiasm.
I recently met three local young people who are Stockport’s representatives in the UK Youth Parliament, which is made up of 11-18 year olds from all over the country.
Members of the Youth Parliament are elected locally and they campaign to bring about social change and to be the voice of young people locally.
Faith Oliver, aged 15 and Alex Davies, 16, who are at Stockport School, are two of Stockport’s representatives in the Youth Parliament. I met them recently and they outlined to me their chosen campaign on mental health, which is an issue that worries many young people.
For many children and young people the start of the new school term means a big change in their lives, such as moving from primary to secondary school. This transition can often be a stressful time for children, even when they feel well prepared by their primary school and well supported at home.
Some children are carrying an extra burden, which can affect their school life, their friendships and their ability to reach their potential. These children are young carers, whose daily routine means juggling schoolwork with essential care for a family member at home. This can be a cause of great worry to a child.
In Stockport we have very good services for young carers, through the valuable work of Signpost Young Carers. Signpost works alongside primary and secondary schools, providing a package of support which enables these children to take part in school activities and have the same opportunities as their classmates. Indeed, Signpost support means that they are able to get a break from their caring responsibilities and enjoy their childhood.
Back in March I wrote to Minister for Children and Families about young carers in Stockport and the wonderful work that is being done in Stockport by Signpost Young Carers.
Signpost works alongside local schools to provide support for young carers to experience the same opportunities as their peers.
I was interested to hear what plans the government have to ensure that when a young carer moves they do not lose the crucial support they receive from their local authority. Furthermore, I asked whether the Government might consider plans to include provisions for young carers as part of the assessment criteria for Oftsed inspections.
My initial letter to the Department for Education can be found here.
The response from Nadhim Zahawi can be found here