Last week in Parliament I hosted an event to launch a campaign to raise awareness about child carers.
Honeypot, a children’s charity which gives respite care for carers aged five to 12, launched their campaign For Children Who Care to encourage MPs to recognise the challenges faced by young carers and to raise awareness of the need for respite care and to support organisations such as Honeypot.
Honeypot is the only UK charity providing consistent and regular support to young carers between the ages of five and 12.
Young carers face significant responsibilities and often find it difficult to relate to their peers, concentrate in school and play with their friends.
Honeypot offers these children a safe place where they can simply be children, in a supportive, safe environment.
At Honeypot House, in Hampshire, they are able to, amongst many other activities, swim, play in the adventure playground, ride bikes, visit a pet corner and bake treats in order to play and socialise in a safe and therapeutic environment.
It is estimated that some 166,000 five-12 year olds are primary carers for a parent or younger sibling in the UK, although the true figure may be much higher.
Official statistics do not take into account young carers who care for adults with mental health or addiction problems, despite the fact that these carers account for a significant number of the young people which Honeypot helps.
There are very few services that support vulnerable children and young carers and Honeypot is one of the only places where many of these children can turn.
As the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Carers, I welcomed the opportunity to meet with Simmi Woodal, chief executive of Honeypot and her team and support them in the exceptional work they are doing to help young carers.
In Suffolk, in common with the rest of the country, we are facing challenges of properly caring for our growing ageing population but we are fortunate enough to have excellent examples of community groups leading the way providing the necessary care for vulnerable people.
For example, I take a great interest in the work of Suffolk Family Carers, a charity who focus on the needs and priorities of family carers and minimise their difficulties as well as raise awareness of family carers in Suffolk.
Carers play an indispensable role in our community and I always do my best to support them.
I was very pleased to be invited to host the Honeypot campaign launch in Parliament as it marks a step forward in recognising and supporting children in caring roles.
It also gave me the opportunity to bring this vital issue to the attention of other Members of Parliament, who I hope will also be supporting Honeypot in their excellent work.
Dr Dan Poulter is the Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.
For more information about Dr Dan Poulter MP, please visit his website at www.drdanielpoulter.com