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Young carers celebrate 70 years of the commonwealth

Milestone recognised with development of a young carer charter

Around 50 young carers are gathering this weekend in Nairobi for a festival of play, fun, reflection and campaigning. 

The event is organised by the Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work (COSW) in partnership with the Kenya National Association of Social Workers linked with associations in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda and supported by the UK Children’s Society Young Carer Team. 

BASW member David Jones is travelling to Kenya as part of his role as the UK representative for COSW, and also to represent BASW.

For the first time the festival will connect with young carers in other Commonwealth countries, including Australia, Canada, Malawi and the United Kingdom using social media and video, supported by funding from the Commonwealth Secretariat. 

The event will be followed up by social media dialogues involving other Commonwealth countries including India, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa among others.

Previous events were held in 2009, 2012 and 2016 preceded by a major conference in 2006.

The following objectives have been at the heart of the COSW young carer project from the beginning:

  • Focus specifically on young people supporting family members with illness or disability at home
  • Bring young carers together so they can share their experiences and give mutual support – reducing isolation and showing recognition and appreciation
  • Give young carers space to be young people & have fun
  • Provide opportunities for discussion, informal counselling and reflection
  • Provide opportunity for the community to acknowledge the burdens carried by young carers – make it more public so their problems are better understood
  • Connect Commonwealth countries
  • Develop professional social work networks linked with IFSW and COSW - bringing together social work association leaders for regional discussion and mutual support (social work leaders from other countries travel with young carers as guardians and supporters)

In discussion with the young carers, the event is designed as a springboard for developing a Commonwealth-wide consultation with young carers working towards the creation of a Commonwealth Young Carers Charter, setting out their aspirations, their expectations of the Commonwealth and national governments and their hopes for improved understanding in the home communities. 

This could be launched and presented at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda in June 2020.

Further information