Anna, our new Senior Policy Manager for Young and Young Adult Carers, says hello…

photoI’m Anna Morris and this is my first blog as the Senior Policy Manager for Young and Young Adult Carers at Carers Trust. I am delighted to be involved in the really important work that makes sure that young carers are enabled to have the same opportunities as their peers.

I have come from Carers Trust’s Network of Carer Support Services as the Deputy Chief Executive of two Kent based charities. Meeting young carers and understanding the issues they face on a daily basis really hit home with me. I felt inspired by the strength of these young people, but saddened that they had to rapidly grow up to take on responsibilities that many adults would struggle with.

We were offering services to support young carers to build their resilience and get them through the tough times, but the constant question for me was: surely children shouldn’t have to do this?

We know that the effects of caring can be staggering on young people. The physical and emotional demands of caring for someone is a lot for young minds to deal with. The evidence clearly shows that caring from a young age can have significant and long term implications with many young carers struggling to find work, friends and independence in adulthood.

We know that at least 178,000 young people under 18 are supporting someone else to live (census 2011), yet we expect the real figures to be quadruple this.  We know that more than 15,000 children under 18 are providing a whopping 50 hours of care on a weekly basis. We know that 27% of them miss school or have educational difficulties and that young carers aged 16-18 are more than twice as likely to be out of a job, out of education, out of training.  We know that caring can have a detrimental impact on the physical and emotional wellbeing of these young people effecting long into adulthood.

So why when we know all this is it still the case that young carers often go unidentified? Why does it often have to reach a crisis before support is made available to these vulnerable young people? Why are schools, which are the main contact for all young people, not required to target and evidence their support for this vulnerable group? Why do young carers not have the same rights as adults when they are performing the same role?

With my colleagues at Carers Trust, I want to make sure that young and young adult carers are protected, in law and in reality, from caring roles that negatively impact on their life opportunities. We want to make sure that any professional, who comes into contact with a young carer identifies them and supports them. We want to break down the barriers young carers face so that they have the same life opportunities as their peers.

First things first… we still need to know more about the needs of young people in caring so that we know how we can best help. In particular we want to know about barriers to education and employment. With the help of The Co-operative, we are asking all young adult carers to tell us about their experiences in education and work. The more evidence we have, the stronger we can make our arguments.

We’ve launched a new online survey to find out more which we’ll use as the basis of our campaigning over the next three years. We know these young people are twice as likely not to be in education or employment as their peers. So Carers Trust is working with The University of Nottingham to find out why young adult carers often find it difficult to juggle caring with school, college or work, and what would help.

If you’re a carer aged 14-25, or you know someone who is, please tell us about your experiences or share the survey with as many people as possible.

June 7, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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