Young Carers – The Invisible Care Givers

Young carers carry a heavy burden which many may not even be aware of especially teachers & other health professionals. This is because they and their parents unusually worry that the Social Services will break up the family.

Many youngsters care for their disabled/chronically sick parents in many ways.
They often have to care not only for the parent but also for younger siblings. There is a lot of work that goes into running a home and many school age children are running homes, caring for their family and still trying to keep up with school work

The strain this can cause to the young carer isn’t always evident. It can cause other problems for them especially with regard to their education. Many young carers miss school to take a family member to the doctors, hospital appointments, to collect medicines and a lot of the time it is to ensure their parent is cared for all day because there may not be anyone else to do it whilst the young carer attends school. I think it would be a good idea to make it safe for young carers to discuss the extent of the care they give without fear of family break up and so that they can get time off from caring. Time to be the young person they are.

It is essential to give young carers support & understanding. It is vital that young carers are identified early so they can be given this support. If there were a registration system which would reward the young carer & the parent; it may influence more families to come forward & register. Some carers are even of preschool age obviously they may simply help their parent or sibling by picking things up and carrying them. They will see it as a game when so young and in many instances there will be other adults around to care for them. The problem really start to be evident when the young carer gets to high school, they have the brain of the child but the responsibility of an adult. Everything to them is simply black or white, they will think that if they confide in someone that they will get taken away. If you read the newspapers or watch the TV news you hear of cases where kids have gone into care for a myriad of reasons. Many reasons may not even be about the child or children being a young carer but in their heads they will think and you can see the logic – parent can’t take care of children so children taken into foster care.. Be honest you would make a similar link.

Young carers do not get any reward or recognition for their vital role. Especially as they are essentially the hidden carers because they are too young to claim carers allowance so numbers are very sketchy. Lots of local authorities do operate a carers forum & try to assist young carers if they find out about them. If a registration process was put in place this could ensure the young carers are helped so they do not miss too much education. There are ways of ensuring the young carers are supported, there are ways of keeping the family together, there is a way of getting time off for young carers as they need respite as much as the disabled family member does.

We must help to encourage and promote the positive and vital work these youngsters do. We must praise them and slowly win the trust by helping one child at a time if need be, going to one school at a time and discussing the approach that may help the Head of Pastoral care to get an estimate of the numbers if youngsters who need help. Maybe a few weeks of short messages.

This is obviously a stream of consciousness and will require more detail or input from people who already help young carers and lord knows who else. The main thing is that somebody may read this and a light bulb clicks on so that they will give some ideas, proposals, approaches, rewards, target homework to suit the situation and to help devise something that will recognise the input that young carers give.

Each Council does usually have a Young Carers group and there are lots of charities out there to help BUT if the young carer doesn’t admit they are a carer then they go unnoticed, hidden, alone and can suffer with mental health issues. There are plenty of links and groups on the Internet but of we don’t know who is caring or why they are a persistent truant. Maybe it needs a change in the approach used so more youngsters feel comfortable in coming forward to tell their stories.

Oh well that’s all please leave comments on what you think would help, your personal experience of being a young carer and what you think will help others. So it’s over to you guys out there in the blogger/twitter sphere or wherever else to help develop this and maybe to tell me I’m bonkers whatever. Just think about the type of care some youngsters may need to give……could you do it???

The first photo is of me with one of my children, I’m very blessed that I have 3 children, fantastic family, a loving husband not all are as lucky as I am. I can’t thank my family enough for the care they give to me and I’m always trying to come up with ways to show them how grateful I am.