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young carers31st January 2019 is the annual Carers trust Young Carers Awareness Day which helps raise Awareness of Young Carers

Young carers are just young people – with caring responsibilities! They look the same as everyone else but they can lead very different lives! A young carer is someone under 18 who helps look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol.

The purpose of the awareness day is to raise public awareness of the challenges faced by young people because of their caring role, and to campaign for greater support for young carers and their needs.

This year’s theme is Mental Health. Being a young carer is a risk factor for the mental health of children and young people.

The average age of a young carer is 13 but there are young carers as young as 5

In 2010, the BBC, with assistance from The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, surveyed 4,029 pupils in ten secondary schools and found 337 had caring responsibilities. There is approx. 700,000 young carers in the UK. That’s around 1 in 12 secondary aged pupils or 2 young carers in every classroom. There are likely to be young carers in every school and college. The Census identified over 200,000 official young carers, but many remain hidden.

We offer multiple Manual Handling of clients training courses here at Acorn and know just how technical and energy consuming it can be to help move/support someone properly. These young carers aren’t always given the right training, especially those who are not known as official carers. Musculoskeletal injury continues to account for significant sickness absence amongst the UK workforce, yet these children can’t always call in sick to school. If they are the carer, who is going to look after them?

So what might they do? Everything!

  • Practical tasks, such as cooking, housework and shopping.
  • Physical care, such as helping someone out of bed.
  • Emotional support, such as talking to someone who is distressed.
  • Personal care, such as helping someone dress.
  • Managing the family budget and collecting prescriptions.
  • Helping to give medicine.
  • Helping someone communicate.
  •  Looking after brothers and sisters.

Young carers should have everything non-young carers have, The time to be a young person, the same opportunities as their friends, good support for the person they help look after, their rights acknowledged so that they can discuss their needs for support. However, a Carers Trust survey found that 80% of young carers felt they were missing out on their childhood because of their caring role. In 350 young carers surveyed, 48% were stressed because of their role.

1 in 3 young carers spend between 11–20 hours each week caring. That’s on top of going to school and homework. Young carers don’t tend to do as well at GCSE level as their peers (juggling caring and education can be tough!) although the majority (84%) in a recent survey, said they intended to go to university or college. Good for them we say.

Perhaps a more concerning statistic is that a survey found that 42% of young carers said there was not a particular person at school who recognised them as a carer and helped them. In recent research, over a quarter (26%) of young carers were bullied at school because they are helping or caring for someone.

Under the Care Act 2014, young carers are entitled to an assessment. It will look at what can be done to make caring easier for a young carer. Click Here for more information on how to get an assessment carried out

So what can you do to help?

  • Visit the Carers Trust website for more information on the awareness day.
  • Write a blog– talk about the importance of the young carers being identified and supported and that people shouldn’t assume they are too young to care.
  • Tweet your support using #youngcarersawarenessday
  • Put up a Carers Trust or local carer services poster in your premises to raise awareness and encourage visitors to ask their GP’s about services to support carers.
  • Text YCAD19 £5 to 70070 to donate to Carers Trust and support vital services for young carers.

Survey statistics from: Carers Trust (2015), Missing Out Survey (Carers Trust). 4 Sempik, J, Becker, S (2013), Young Adult Carers at School: Experiences and Perceptions of Caring and Education (Carers Trust). 5 Sempik, J, Becker, S (2013), Young Adult Carers at School: Experiences and Perceptions of Caring and Education (Carers Trust). 6 Census 2011 (England and Wales). 7 Sempik, J, Becker, S (2013), Young Adult Carers at School: Experiences and Perceptions of Caring and Education (Carers Trust). 8 Sempik, J, Becker, S (2013), Young Adult Carers at School: Experiences and Perceptions of Caring and Education (Carers Trust). 9 Mills, P, Ashley, D, Phelps, D, Warren, S, (2015), Supporting Young Carers Aged 5-8, a Resource for Professionals Working with Younger Carers (Carers Trust).

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