It’s Young Carers Awareness Day and we’ve pulled together some key information and resources which anyone can use to increase empathy (“not sympathy!”) with Young Carers in the Borough.
When does someone become a Young Carer?
If you know someone who is under 18, who is helping to look after a family member (or friend), because they are:
- ill (physically or mentally/emotionally);
- misusing drugs or alcohol;
they are a Young Carer. ‘Help’ may include medical tasks such as collecting prescriptions but could equally involve simple day-to-day tasks such as looking after brothers or sisters.
Young Carers in Camden
There are an estimated 2,000 Young Carers in the Borough, representing 10% of all Carers, according to Camden Council’s official assessment (JSNA 2016).
Defining what this group needs from services is not easy. Not least because official estimates may miss a considerable number of ‘hidden’ Carers. In 2010 the BBC found that one in 12 schoolchildren said they had caring responsibilities.
The range of experiences that Young Carers have is also incredibly diverse. The majority provide under 19 hours of care per week, though some (around 180 young people in Camden) provide as much as 50+ hours of support per week (Census 2011). The level of care depends on who they are caring for and why. Everyone, and every situation, is unique.
What’s it like being a Young Carer?
Interrupted sleep, stress, anxiety and missed opportunities to take part in social activities have been linked to a range of physical and mental health problems; but that is only one part of the story being told by Young Carers when they get the opportunity to #SpeakUp. When caring roles are balanced and not excessive, there can be many positive outcomes, including closer relationships within the family.
Among hundreds of fantastic free online resources, we’ve highlighted three of our favourites below. Please share, in particular, with any professionals in the NHS / schools who might be able to use or take inspiration from them.
A day in the life of a Young Carer (2 mins)
‘Empathy, not sympathy!’
‘…people, a lot of the time…[say] “oh no, they are young carers, their life must be really hard”… but there are really good things that come out of it as well‘
‘just because we’re young carers we’re not doomed… I do have a relatively good life and have fun times’
What help is there for Young Carers?
All Young Carers have a right to a Carers Assessment, no matter how much caring they do. Whilst it is Camden Council’s responsibility to identify and support Young Carers, many ‘hidden’ Young Carers are unlikely to come into contact with the council.
A Carers Assessment involves a professional visiting the young person at home with their family as part of a ‘whole family support’ programme. Family Action can help to reduce caring responsibilities of the young person, or, reduce the impact of the negative aspects of caring.
Adult young carers aged 18-25 can access support through Camden Carers Service T: 020 7428 8950 E: email@example.com.
If you are a front-line health, care or education professional then check out these easy-to-navigate resources from the Carers Trust.
Identifying Young Carers
Young people with caring responsibilities may mention helping family members in cooking, eating, going to the toilet, getting dressed, bathing, taking medications, looking after siblings, managing money or bills, and organising appointments. There are particularly good opportunities to identify Young Carers in school. They may be identified if they are often late for class or absent, leave school early, seem anxious, are tired in lessons, or look untidy. Schools can also ask parents to inform them if their child is a young carer before starting, have a designated member of staff responsible for young carers and provide mandatory training for all teachers.
Poster: Young Carers – Who they are and what they do (Carers Trust)
Healthwatch Camden & Young Carers
Through our role on the Health & Wellbeing Board Healthwatch Camden will be continuing to ensure the voice of local people, including Young Carers and ‘hidden’ Young Carers, is taken into account. This will be particularly important when the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment is being updated later this year. We aim to reflect the views of people in Camden by working in partnership with people that support carers, by using existing evidence and by having new conversations with local people where important gaps in evidence exist.
To find out more about Young Carers Awareness Day and how you can support the campaign please visit Carers Trust.