Young carers, the valuable contribution they make, and the challenges they face, are being highlighted by North Lincolnshire Council.
The local authority recently backed the national Young Carers Awareness Day which had the theme ‘When I grow up’ which was all about supporting young carers to explore and realise their full potential.
Currently 80 young carers are known to NLC; 78 of which are accessing support from the council’s Young Carers Service.
In the latest Adolescent Lifestyle Survey carried out in North Lincolnshire, it identified 467 young carers and it is estimated that there could be more in North Lincolnshire (this is based on the population and national statistics on young carers).
There are 700,000 young carers in the UK. The aim of the campaign was to get everyone talking about the thousands of carers who are so often unidentified, and who miss out on vital services and support they are entitled to. It aims to communicate who young carers are, what they do and what they have missed out on in their childhoods as a result of their caring role.
With the general awareness and understanding of young carers increased, children and young people with caring responsibilities should then be easily identified and helped, along with their families to access the right support.
The council’s Young Carers Service supports children and young people aged five to 18 across North Lincolnshire who care for a family member who is mentally or physically ill, has a disability, drug or alcohol problem.
The service provides information, advice and support to young people who are in this position. They help find the right support for family members including the person being cared for; provide opportunities to have a break from caring responsibilities and meet other young carers and advice and support in coping with feelings and self-care.
Young carers provide a key role whether it be cooking, cleaning, offering emotional support or looking after a sibling. The role is very varied and can be challenging at times.
Councillor David Rose, cabinet member for children, families and learning, said: “We work closely with local schools, colleges and agencies to raise awareness of young carers and to support children and young people in their caring role, as well as offer information and advice on how to identify and support young carers.
“Young Carers Awareness Day helps us in our bid to raise awareness and reach out to those young carers that we don’t know about. We also want young carers to realise they have a future and can fulfil their potential.
“Support can be provided for the family member being cared for, which can alleviate pressure on the young carer.
“Young carers do an amazing job caring for and supporting their loved ones, but this can often take away their childhood. Our Young Carers Service offers support to enable children and young people to live their childhood and ensures that they have the help they need. It gives these children and young people the opportunity to do things they might not have been able to before, such as socialise with friends and take part in different activities.”
Phone the service on 01724 407988 or email email@example.com.
* Here is Sarah’s story... Sarah is 11-years-old and has been caring for her dad since she was six years-old. Sarah was referred to the Young Carers Service after her school noticed that she was very emotional and was constantly tired throughout her school day. When the reasons why were explored, she told her teacher she has too many jobs to do at home, including getting her dad up and out of bed in a morning, helping him bathe and get dressed. She was also caring for her younger sister by making her breakfast and getting her ready for school. Sarah was also carrying out household tasks such as cooking and cleaning.
Sarah’s dad has numerous health conditions and a disability impacting on his health and wellbeing. He was not aware of the support available to him and was too ill at times to take into account the level of care being offered by Sarah. He was also fearful of being judged by others and having his children taken away.
After meeting with the Young Carers Team a needs assessment was completed using as whole family approach. The Young Carers Team ensured that dad’s needs were met through an adult social care assessment. Support was given to assist him in hiring a cleaner and gardener, alleviating the need for Sarah to complete a high level of support. He was also supported in applying for a Personal Independence Payment and was awarded this payment, which meant he could buy a mobility scooter that enables him to get his children to school on time.
Sarah receives support from the Young Carers team to access different courses, such as First Aid, fire safety and cookery – equipping her with life skills. She also attends activity sessions where she can meet other young carers and have a break from her caring responsibilities. Sarah also gets support from the school nursing team to help her understand her dad’s illness.