In 2005 the existing local Young Carers project closed leaving no support in the Rochford District for children and young people with caring responsibilities.
Essex County Council approached Rayleigh, Rochford & District Association for Voluntary Service (RRAVS) to set up a Young Carers project in the District under the guidance of social services “to support Young Carers who, if they miss out on education, develop low self esteem and confidence”
By the September of 2005, 10-15 children were regularly attending the RRAVS sessions in Rayleigh each week. Over the next year growth was slow and the project received guidance from ECC education dept operating from Fitzwimarc Youth Centre.
In early 2007, after running for 18 months, there were 18 children split into 2 age groups in Rayleigh, with numbers increasing to 36 during that year. The age groups reflected school ranges with Primary (from age 8) and Secondary groups being formed.
By 2008 with 60 children attending in Rayleigh the decision was taken to expand with another group being set up in Rochford, to make access easier across the district.
In June 2009 RRAVS gave consideration to setting up an adult carers scheme to run in conjunction with the young carers and the project resulted in the setting up of Supporting Carers And Families Together (SCAFT) as a separate organisation with registration as a charity in late 2009.
Growing numbers resulted in the splitting of the Rochford group into Primary and Secondary age groups in 2014 to mirror the Rayleigh groups, with over 140 children registered as Young Carers. April 2015 saw further expansion to lower the age limit to just 6 years old following a significant level of referrals in the 6-8 age range, and a growth in numbers to over 170.
From the outset the project was essentially half funded by ECC with the remainder needed to operate being achieved through grant awards.
We have been fortunate along the way to attract funds from the Children & Young People strategic Partnership (CYPSP) Local Priority fund (LPF), Youth opportunities fund, BBC Children in Need, Lloyds TSB, Essex Community Foundation, Sobell Foundation, a number of Lottery awards and other smaller funders.
Sadly in 2015 significant reductions in grant funding by ECC meant SCAFT’s long standing financial arrangement with the local authority came to an end and new sources of income have had to be found. SCAFT is pleased to now have substantial support from The Big Lottery Fund and BBC Children in Need, along with many smaller contributors and the organisation remains very optimistic about the future and is at the forefront of local advocacy for Carers, with an ever evolving range of services.