Applying for the grant
Key factors in making the form easy for young carers included being:
- Short (some said no more than 10 questions, others said 3)
- Easy language
- Available in different formats (i.e. computer, phone, tablet, paper forms)
- Don’t ask the same question multiple ways
- Types of question – multiple choice are easier than open text, with an open text option in case the options don’t work for you
- Some commented that tick box questions can be hard if you don’t feel like the answers fit your situation
- Accessible to everyone
A number of participants commented that there should be as few criteria and questions as possible. The questions should make it possible for people to fill in their situation without having to repeat themselves. Some felt that you shouldn’t have to prove that you are a young carer and this would make them feel like they are lying – they felt the form should be enough. Some had experience of helping parents complete difficult benefit application forms.
“Mum has a lot wrong with her – she was awarded lifetime DLA and then had to switch to PIP - it was terrifying for her, I had to break it down for my mum and it made her feel stupid”
Some said if they weren’t sure how to complete a question, they would leave it blank, or just not apply. Some said that they would ask someone they know for help – for example from a family member or their young carer group leader. Very few felt they would use online support like webchat or a phoneline if they weren’t sure how to complete the form. They felt that because of this it was important that the form is as simple as possible.
In terms of the preferred way of applying, many of the young carers said that the most important thing is to have choice. Whilst some felt that it is easier to be able to apply online, others wanted the choice to be able to do a paper form – some said, for example, that this would make it easier to take along to their young carer group and get help to fill it in. Some suggested that paper copies of forms could be distributed to groups as a way of encouraging people to apply. Others felt that it was important to have the choice of face-to-face application channels – for example at a local job centre or through an organisation that can help fill it in.
Some participants felt that it might be useful to have a reference to back up the application, or that this could be an optional criteria. The reason given for this was that some people felt they would feel more confident completing the form if they had a worker helping them. Other suggested that the form should make it clear that you can get support to complete it.
Some young carers commented that it can be hard to get people like teachers or college staff to believe them about the responsibilities they have. Other young carers are worried about social work getting involved if they share what is going on at home, and that there is a lot of stigma and fear around families becoming separated. Some have had negative experiences of this happening. Others said that they were glad when social work did become involved because they got support.
Participants queried whether there would be a need to re-apply every year.
Email: Catherine Henry
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