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Concern over cuts to carers' support
Tuesday 7 February 2012
Concern over cuts to carers' support
A Frome mother and daughter have expressed concern over plans by Somerset County Council to cut the number of youth workers that support young carers.
Jennie Smith, of New Buildings Lane, has fibromyalgia, ME and a spinal condition, which means she struggles to walk without sticks and is often left exhausted.
Her daughter Steph, 12, is her carer and supports her mother in nearly all aspects of her life, including dressing, cooking and cleaning.
To give her a break, Steph spends one evening a month at a support group with other young carers at Frome Youth Centre.
Under the financial review the council has outlined several options to streamline the Young Carers Support Service, which could see the loss of up to four members of staff and asking volunteers to take on more roles in their place. Steph and her mother fear it will mean that the service can no longer provide the same high standard of support.
The cuts could save the council about £70,000.
Mrs Smith, a civil servant, said she is worried that volunteers would be asked to take on too much.
She said: "There is already a lot of volunteer work involved in the Frome club; the Rotary Club do so much and all the county council have to provide is the youth worker.
"I also have serious issues with a stranger taking on the service and on confidentiality, privacy and training.
"Steph never wants to miss the support group and it gives her a chance to have a break and a chat with her friends who are in the same situation. It is so vital to the children that attend."
The children received a letter from the council but were only given until next Monday to respond to the proposals.
Mrs Smith said: "The young people are not meeting up until next month and have had no time to talk to each other about this. They need more time and I have written to the county council expressing my concerns."
Steph said she really enjoys the group and hopes the council will reconsider.
She said: "I would like the council to put it back up to twice a month, but that isn't going to happen now.
"My friends at the group know what I experience on a daily basis and it would be very lonely if that was going to end."
District councillor Sam Phripp, who has been helping the support group, said: "As a child I used the young carers service in Frome while my dad was unwell, and I know what it means to the people that use it.
"Young carers save the county council hundreds of thousands of pounds every year with the care they provide, and it is a disgrace that our county council won't support them.
"What's more, the amount they're trying to cut from the budget – £70,000 – is the same amount they've just spent in legal fees fighting a court case about their library closures."
Cabinet member for children and young people, councillor John Osman said: "I have met personally with a number of young carers and know the hard work and care they provide.
"We will do what we can to make sure they have suitable and sufficient support through the use of our own services and other partners."
The above originally appeared here.
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