Supporting young carers
On Young Carers Awareness Day,Tuesday 26th January 2017, four Wiltshire young carers were featured in a video commissioned by Wiltshire Council. The video was shown as part of an awareness raising initiative by Spurgeon's children's charity at The Atrium, County Hall,
A young carer is a child or young person who cares for another person. This may be someone in their family who needs looking after because they have a disability or an illness. It could be a brother or sister or a parent or grandparent. A young carer should not have to do so much caring that it makes them upset, unwell or miss school.
The 2011 census reported that there were over 200,000 young carers in the UK but research by the BBC in 2010 estimated that there could be up to 700,000 young carers in the UK.
Young carers can be found in families where there are :
- physical disabilities or long term illness;
- mental health problems;
- family members who misuse alcohol or drugs;
- multiple problems.
The average age for a young carer is 12 years old. They can care for family members in a number of ways, including: cooking, shopping, personal care, washing clothes, arranging medical appointments and carrying out housework.
Research shows that a young carer's responsibilities can negatively impact upon their health, wellbeing and school achievement (9 grades lower than their peers at GCSE). They are more likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET) from 16-19. Many young carers experience the following:
- social isolation
- bullying (25% bullied due to their caring role)
- physical problems
- difficulty concentrating
- poor attendance (around 1 in 20 miss school)
Young carers can also demonstrate great resilience, sense of responsibility and independence.
Support and guidance for Wiltshire schools
Most schools will have children and young people on roll who have caring responsibilities for a parent, other relative or sibling. Some of these will be known to the school, but very often young carers can remain hidden and can be difficult to identify.
Schools have a duty to consider the health and wellbeing of all pupils and they can do this in a number of ways. Training for all staff, in the identification of young carers and the approaches that can be put in place to support them can make a positive impact on young carers and their attainment and achievement.
The current Wiltshire Healthy Schools criteria ask schools to provide evidence of how they are meeting the needs of young carers.
Information and resources to support young carers in school can be found here: https://youngcarersinschools.com/
The Children's Society and Carers Trust have a Young Carers in School Award that supports and recognises schools who support their young carers.
- Longleaze Primary School achieved this national award during 2016.
The Carers Trust provide a step-by-step guide for supporting young carers in school.
As part of this step by step guide there are various national documents with suggested content for a Young Carers policy including this one.
This e-learning module for schools created by The Children's Society, can raise staff awareness of the issues young carers face and help schools to develop strategies to support them.
Locally, Spurgeons can be a useful source of support for young carers themselves and for others who wish to learn more about how they can help.
Further information for and about young carers in Wiltshire can be found here.