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Agenda item

Question and Answer Session with Officers and Partners



1.     What is already in place for young carers to access? Linda


Laura Selby – I work with the action group in Sheffield where the pilot was introduced for reduced rates for leisure activities. We are looking to roll this out more widely with 200 cards this year which should reach a lot of young carers, but not all. A carer card for both adult and young carers, similar to DNA in Doncaster is being introduced with various discounts in places like Star/Jump which should hopefully give people a bit more access.  What people in Sheffield have been saying is that travel is really important as well as leisure access because if you are unable to get there then it does not really work on its own. So Sheffield has the carer’s card and the leisure card for this year.


Nichola Bladen – SYPTE worked with Sheffield Young Carers, after being approached by them to see if SYPTE could help with free travel.  A small pilot scheme with a set budget resulted where the travel offered was just for school holidays. As everything is on smartcards, access is through a portal and Laura’s team were given access to the portal. A young person’s Megatravel or 16-18 pass was also needed as the travel had to be loaded on the smartcard. Young carers were encouraged to apply for smartcards, which is usually done online, but they accepted manual applications. One of the barriers was cards needed to be activated at kiosks or interchanges which meant the young carers travelling there to activate them. Going forward, they could load a monthly pass so this would only need activating once. It was a pilot scheme, but SYPTE would not have the budget to cover every young carer’s scheme.


Cllr Steele – I have been tasked with looking at the Rothercard scheme and what we could build into that but it comes down to cost and I cannot  guarantee anything. Cllr Alam might wish to look at it?


Cllr Alam – I will look at it and see what we can do.


Emily Newman – I was involved in the Sheffield Young Carers Scheme, based at Graves where the free provision was provided and would be happy to replicate this in Rotherham for young carers if that was something they would like to do. Following that we issued a card to young carers, similar to the Rothercard, and would be happy to do that so they could use any of our leisure facilities at a discounted rate. Plus if there were any funded projects Places for People Leisure (PFPL) could also pass relevant information on to the young carers. It was clarified that the discounted rate was 20%.


Chris Siddall – We can discuss this at the Rotherham Active Partnership which comprises a host of leisure providers, including social enterprises and charities, to see about other wider offers beyond what the Council and PFPL can offer. The network is meeting in May and also has task groups for children and young people.


Emma Schofield – We have a number of free projects running with different funding pots and aims and we have linked in previously through Children in Need and National Citizenship Scheme (NCS) projects.For us it is a case of linking in better as we have a number of activities people could get involved in. We are willing to look at new projects if there are certain things people want that we could look at putting on.


Laura Selby – NCS was trialled in Sheffield last year and the residential element is a challenge for young carers in having so much time away from home,  So we are trying to work with local providers on a more tailored model and that might be something that could be looked at locally.


Cllr Cooksey – Is anyone working with outside bodies such as theatres or cinemas as I am aware of a number of schemes for adult carers? For example CAST in Doncaster would give a free ticket to a carer. I would imagine that for many families money is an issue and these young people need respite and to enjoy the same things as other young people.


Cllr Allen – On theatres I am more than happy to look at that in terms of Rotherham Civic Theatre.


Laura Selby – There does seem to be some good stuff happening but one final point is that sometimes carers get offered a free pass if they are with person they care for, which is really valuable to get out and do that, but that does not give them the break from that caring role. So it is good to have those schemes in place but also ones where the young people just go themselves not in their caring role.


2.    Why is there a perceived lack of parity between what is available for adult carers and what is available for young carers? Sundas


Cllr Watson – Are there examples of a lack of parity, or is it just a perception?


Emilia Ashton – It might not necessarily be a lack of parity, but the question is there to remind people that when you see information about discounts for carers the normal assumption is that it is for adult carers, so people need to know it means all carers, including young carers.


Chris Siddall – Communications need to demonstrate that offers encompass all ages and are promoted so people understand that.  As I understand it with Rothercard it could be an adult carer or a young carer with a “plus one”.


3.    With schemes in place in other areas of the country why is it a postcode lottery as to what support young carers receive? Dylan


Cllr Watson – I take it you have examples of specifics that happen elsewhere that you would like to see happen here?


Emilia Ashton – From the research many areas do have access to schemes that give young carers some respite. Why should location make any difference to the support that young carers receive?


Cllr Watson – A very fair question. I spoke with Yvonne at an event as I was tasked by the Labour Group to speak to young carers to come up with an actual wish list and see what could be done. There is not a limitless amount of money but there must be more that we can do. I will be attending the next Young Carers Council meeting to get ideas to feed back and see what is within the Council’s gift such as Rothercard and where it has levers to influence, like transport.  You are pushing at an open door.


Emilia Ashton – What communication is in place about what is out there already?


Cllr Steele – Adding to that, how do we communicate what the Rothercard offer is?


Sean Hill – In Rotherham the Council works closely with Barnardo’s and we are quite fortunate to have a specific young carers service run by an organisation experienced in working with young carers. We are also part of the Carers’ Strategy Action Group referred to in the briefing. Within the Carers’ Strategy are a number of actions highlighting the issues of young carers with professionals and schools, to lessen the impact of being a young carer and in recognition of the impact of being a young carer.  Barnardo’s do provide a number of activities for young carers, but it is limited based on funding. We are aware that a number of hidden young carers are out there so we are doing awareness raising including with GPs and health professionals. So there is a lot of work going on but I agree that more could be done and this session is ideal to consider opportunities around leisure activities. 


Shokat Lal – It is clear from this question and the last one that we probably need to do some further work around Rothercard and consider how we have positioned the whole thing on discounts and loyalty. As Rothercard has moved over to the Customer Services team it is timely to have a look at potential options and incorporate some of the work you have already done around best practice. It will be interesting to look at how other local authorities are managing it, through grants and funding regimes and how is it brought together.


Luke Sayers – My area has picked up Rothercard and it is fair to say that  until recently it has not really had the ownership it needed in the Council and had lost its way a bit. If you look at it at the moment libraries offer a reduction to all people with a Rothercard when renting a cassette, which shows how out of date the scheme is.  We are looking to review that for everyone and what it should look like in the future. This is a very timely conversation and we can build it into whatever Rothercard will be in the future. We can make it whatever we want, but it all comes back to money and what discounts are offered and where we can offer them. We need to think about how clever we can be with partners and as a Council.


Cllr Cusworth – While we are talking about limited money I would just like to remind us all that carers, including young carers, provide a big saving to councils across the country in terms of costs of adult social care. I would ask that anything that is looked at is done with a cost benefit analysis and not just from the perspective of having a finite pot of money.


Chris Siddall – Whatever is put in place or when the scheme is reviewed, the sustainability element is crucial and we need to get this right from the beginning.  It is a big disappointment for people when schemes end or the money comes to end. 


Cllr Watson – We need to be mindful when we talk about costs as if people cannot afford to catch a bus they will not catch a bus. Offering free bus travel is not a lost bus fare but rather giving someone access to a bus. If people cannot afford to go swimming they will not go swimming. For example if an extra three people go swimming that is not lost income, as you would not have had it anyway.  So we need to be realistic that sometimes what might look like a cost, i.e. extra numbers swimming or on a bus is not actually a cost to the organisation because it did not cost anything, but is a big benefit to the individual. I would be interested in actual numbers as we know there are hidden carers. That is why it is important to have this dialogue with the young carers and as Chris said to have something sustainable.


Cllr Walsh – Which scheme would RYC pick if given a choice between Sheffield, Luton and Fife and why?


Emilia Ashton – Each scheme has its own merits, but it needs to work for each locality and the important thing is that it gives young carers the vital respite.


4.    Would you be willing to implement a pass which would allow young carers access to free or reduced fair facilities? William


Cllr Alam – We will go back and look at this. I was a young carer myself and have that lived experience and am quite shocked that things are not working for young carers.


Emma Schofield – A lot of our activities are free anyway but we would be happy to consider discounts where we can but it would be a case of looking for funding.


Lindsay Jones – With the schools that we work with, any child is automatically given a free ticket and that will be extended next year.


Yvonne Kenyon – I know adult carers get a pass for football, but does that include young carers?


Emma Schofield - Not at present and I raised this with the club before the meeting so we will look at it.


Cllr Wyatt – I attend Sheffield Steelers games and I know there are sponsorship arrangements for fostering, so is there any possibility of broadening this out to young carers?


Toni Paxford – They do offer discounts for young people if they go in groups.


Laura Shelby – Sheffield young carers receive a batch of tickets for young carers and their families so this might be a possibility for Rotherham if Sheffield Steelers were approached.


5.    What could be implemented in order to ensure that all young carers have access to activities outside their caring role? Becky


Paul Woodcock – It is still early days for Forge Island and the future leisure offer but eventually if successful there will be a cinema operator. Questions will need to be asked in terms of which operator it is and to then engage in those discussions.


Toni Paxford – Could organisations open a discussion with young carers regarding what they want? I know young carers are willing to have such conversations.


Shokat Lal – Building on what I said earlier, it is difficult for us to sit here and define the activities that young people or young carers might want. Certainly when we went out to talk to people about the town centre masterplan people said we needed more shops, but young people told us they wanted more activities, not shops. I think it would be really good to identify what activities young carers would really value, say a top five,  and then we could have a look at how we work through that to bring activities forward.


Cllr Cusworth – While we are looking at this question, I would be interested to know at what age does someone meet the criteria of being a young carer? Anecdotally carers under the age of eight have struggled to access support.


Yvonne Kenyon – Barnardo’s service works with young carers aged from eight to 18. There are young carers younger than that, but they do not get referred to the service as they do not meet the criteria. We have worked with a few younger ones but no one would know if young carers under that age are in Rotherham.


Cllr Clark – Young carers have a voice and we need to listen to it. It is really important when asking what activities or access to facilities they want to remember that many do not live within walking distance.  So it is fundamental to look at free or cheap travel and essential that we look at them travelling safely to access anything.


Nichola Bladen – I will take all the comments back. SYPTE have looked at free travel and the cost was extortionate across the whole of South Yorkshire.


Cllr Mallinder – I totally agree with asking young carers what they want and am sure it will be the same as other young people with one or two codicils here and there. But our problem is about access and removing barriers such as transport and provision of alternative care.


Shokat Lal – It does not need to be answered now, but when you refer to extortionate costs I would like to know more on the numbers and the costs and the breakdown for each of the four areas in South Yorkshire.


Nichola Bladen – I can take that back and ask for it to be looked at.  One of the problems SYPTE had was establishing what you class as a young carer, what criteria. For example people with a disabled pass are assessed by councils so we know they are classed as disabled but for a young carer there are no defining criteria. We have produced various scenarios depending on numbers of young carers.


Laura Shelby – Our pilot report has several estimated costings in there with different scenarios, for Sheffield only, which might give you a sense of it. It is important to identify young carers and in Sheffield it was about having a young carer’s assessment, with the right to an assessment coming in about four years ago and whether that could be used.


Chris Siddall – The access issue needs a bit more thought because of the age of the children and potential safeguarding issues if we are thinking of passes for eight year olds to travel on their own. But as we are talking about eight to 18, then for the older ones maybe. 


Cllr Cusworth – Thinking about bus passes and concessions, would the bus companies really lose out as it would be subsidised by RMBC and others? If children are in a caring role they may be unable to access other activities and areas that are open to all young people that the Council or partners are funding.  Could a pot of money be redirected so that it does not all fall onto SYPTE to provide those concessions? If we are talking about helping children to access sport and other activities could Public Health contribute?


Jon Stonehouse – This is not just a SYPTE point but as Cllr Watson said earlier, we can calculate costs on the basis of what something costs, but if those services are already in place, then it is not really a direct cost. It is about our collective intent to create a better offer to young carers. So we can look at how much we would charge those young people to use a facility or we can make a collective decision that we open up those services for those young people to use either at a discounted charge or free, so it is not necessarily a direct cost to us based on the calculation of what the admission price might be.  We ought to understand the needs of young carers better and what would improve their quality of life; we should not just automatically turn that into what would it cost?


Cllr Walsh – This is about the marginal cost of an additional user and if you can find it out it might be surprisingly small, providing you do not displace a full cost individual.


6.    What could your organisation do in order to be more young carer friendly? Molly


Emily Newman – From our point of view and touching on the last question as well it would be great to sit with some of the young carers to get some background knowledge and learn from them to inform how things are implemented within our centres.  When I was with the Sheffield young carers it was great to listen to them to hear what they go through, why they enjoy respite and to educate those delivering or potentially delivering activities. For example if we need to be a bit less structured and to have a bit more fun because they want to have that break.


Yvonne Kenyon – Rotherham Young Carers Council meets on the last Thursday of every month – all welcome.


Pepe Di’Iasio – A really simple and low cost option is just to talk to some young carers and listen to what their needs are. It is an obvious thing to do and what I am going to take away.


Laura Selby – Does the Youth Cabinet have special interest seats?


Toni Paxford – Anyone and everyone can join and RYC does not have specialist seats.  We have joint meetings and get updates from young carers and occasionally go to them. We also work with organisations who work with young carers.


7.    With a scheme in place in Doncaster and a proposal of a similar scheme in Sheffield is it possible to introduce something that is South Yorkshire wide? Dylan


Cllr Watson – It should be perfectly possible now we have a Sheffield City Region Mayor but it is difficult to get agreement from the four councils on almost anything. I would suggest that we try and sort out our own in Rotherham, which we would probably be able to do more quickly and then when we have a bespoke offer here we will be able to show it to the others.  As raised earlier about location, South Yorkshire wide would eliminate issues for young carers who live on the border of neighbouring authorities.


Toni Paxford – William and Amaan could you bring it up with Mayor of SCR at the next meeting?  Amaan agreed.


Emily Newman – We would be more than happy to accept young carers discounts across South Yorkshire in our leisure facilities.  We are in Sheffield and Rotherham but do not operate in Barnsley or Doncaster and whatever we come up with for Rotherham we would be happy to introduce in our three Sheffield sites.


Agreed actions:


1)    Cllr Alam to look at possibilities linked to the review of Rothercard.

2)    Emily Newman to replicate the Sheffield initiative for young carers in Rotherham if that would be of interest to them and to set up cards for discounted rates.

3)    Emily Newman to replicate any Rotherham initiative in the Sheffield facilities as well.

4)    Chris Siddall to raise the issue of access to leisure activities with providers in the Rotherham Active Partnership.

5)    Emma Schofield to consider new projects, discounts and linking in better with existing activities that young carers could be involved in.

6)    Cllr Allen to look at possibilities for discounts at Rotherham Civic Theatre for young carers.

7)    Emma Schofield to look into Rotherham United extending the adult carer free ticket initiative to include young carers.

8)    Sheffield Steelers to be approached with regard to free tickets for Rotherham young carers.

9)    More dialogue to take place with young carers on what they would like to see in Rotherham.

10)Nichola Bladen to take comments on travel back to SYPTE.

Following the Question and Answer session the Scrutiny Officer thanked everyone for their contributions and highlighted some key themes that had emerged, namely:


- need for more dialogue with young carers to unpick what they would like to see and to come up with something realistic and sustainable

- communications always comes up as an issue and will a be key element of whatever is put in place to ensure young carers know about it and that partners are involved and committed to it

- willingness demonstrated by partners to think about young carers’ issues and take things forward
- Cllr Alam to link in the issues to Rothercard refresh

- Jon mentioned collective intent to create a better offer overall, which is an overarching principle that needs to be considered


Next steps would be to produce the minutes, collate the information and  write a short report by June summarising the key issues that have emerged and discussion today. After liaising with RYC a small number of recommendations will go forward to partners for a response.  This will be followed by regular progress reports to RYC, Rotherham Young Carers Council and OSMB.


Toni Paxford thanked Emelia for chairing before going to Germany in two days for the next 18 months as part of her degree course and said it was a great way for Emelia to finish her five years with RYC.


Cllr Clark wished Emelia every success for the future on behalf of all Members, saying that she had been fantastic.


Emilia thanked people for their attendance and reminded everyone that RYC were on social media.  She thanked OSMB and Cllr Steele before handing back the Chair to Cllr Steele.