Most people tend to think of carers as adults looking after their parents, spouse or children. However, thousands of young people take on the responsibility of unpaid care every day. The last England and Wales Census found that 1 in 20 young people aged 16-24 are providing unpaid care for someone.
Over the past eight years of working with young adult carers, I have met some truly inspirational young people who have constantly put the needs of their family and cared for person ahead of their own, while achieving some amazing successes in education, work and their wider lives. However, too often young adult carers are living in situations which have a serious impact on their physical, emotional and mental health, and are at real risk of becoming homeless as a result of unsustainable caring arrangements and breakdowns in family relationships. While the needs of young adult carers have been increasingly recognised in policy in recent years, the link between caring and housing issues for young people is still overlooked.
In this context, Move On Up is a unique project. Delivered by Quaker Social Action and supported by Commonweal Housing, Move On Up aims to provide young adult carers with shared housing, alongside empathetic and specialist support, to assist them to achieve a range of positive outcomes.
I worked with Learning and Work Institute to conduct an independent evaluation of the Move On Up project. We found that the opportunity to live away from the family home and access tailored, holistic support enabled participants to make considerable improvements in their family relationships, mental health and social life, while also accessing education and employment. The final report includes recommendations to improve young adult carers’ housing situations nationally, and specific recommendations organisations wishing to replicate Move On Up in their local area.
This project presents a real opportunity for stakeholders to work together to improve the life chances of young adult carers, who so often put others’ needs above their own. By working in partnership to provide a safe and supported living space away from the family home, we can give these young people the opportunity they need to live their own lives, while still providing high quality care to their loved ones.
The Move On Up evaluation report and executive summary can be found on Commonweal Housing’s website.