A young carer is someone under the age of 18 who is caring for a parent, sibling or other family member who has a long term illness or disability, mental health problems, learning disability or have become frail with old age. Carrying out caring responsibilities has a big impact on a young persons life and can leave them vulnerable. It can affect them both physically and emotionally. It can result in increased vulnerability to risk. Statistics compiled from the 2011 UK census estimated that there are at least 177,000 young carers in the UK, with around a third caring for a person with a mental illness. It is likely the actual number if higher and research has suggested around a third of young carers are involved in inappropriate and excessive caring with consequent effects on schooling and other key areas of their lives. Many young carers can remain unknown to services and therefore remain unsupported. It is vital that professionals working in adult social care make enquiries about any children or young people within the family to ensure identification and support.
Support to Young Carers
In Redbridge, the support service for young carers is provided by Barnardo’s Indigo Service. The service provides support to young carers and their families including:
- Finding support that families are entitled to from local services so that the child’s caring responsibilities can be reduced
- Supporting young carers to use local services such as sports clubs, support groups and health centres
- Advice and emotional support through counselling and drop-in sessions
- Liaising with schools so that teachers can better support the child
- Giving young carers a break, time with other young carers and a chance to share experiences
The Service can be contacted via 020 8554 2888 or visit Barnardo’s website.
Young carers in Redbridge have said that there should be “no wrong doors” for young carers and their families. Young carers should be identified, assessed and their families supported regardless of which Council service is contacted in the first place. Redbridge Children and Adult Social Services have therefore committed through a memorandum to work together locally, adopting a whole system, whole council, whole family approach to providing support for young carers and their families. For more information, read the ‘No wrong doors’ memorandum of understanding.
- Protecting Young Carers from Bullying – a guide for schools, community groups and policy makers, Carers Trust, 2016
- Hidden from View, Children’s Society, 2013