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Information about young carers - Plymouth Young Carers

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What activities might a young carer do?

The tasks and level of caring undertaken by young carers can vary according to the nature of the illness or disability, the level and frequency of need for care, and the structure of the family as a whole.

Despite this, caring is unpaid and ongoing.

Young carers often take on practical and/or emotional caring responsibilities that would normally be expected of an adult. These can include:

  • Practical tasks - cooking, housework and shopping.
  • Physical care - lifting or helping someone use the stairs.
  • Personal care - dressing, washing, helping with toileting needs.
  • Emotional support - listening, calming, being present.
  • Managing the family budget, collecting benefits and prescriptions.
  • Medication management.
  • Looking after younger siblings.
  • Helping someone to communicate. ( Carers Trust and Children's Society)

Why are so many young carers hidden?

Every school will have young carers but quite often they are hard to identify as they are hidden a for a number of reasons:

  • ยง  The condition of the person they care for is not obvious so people don't think that the young person needs any help.
  • Young carers do not realise that they are a carer or that their life is different to their peers.
  • They don't want to be any different from their peers so they don't draw attention to their caring role.
  • They believe that the school will show no interest in their family circumstances.
  • They want to keep their identity at school separate from their caring role.
  • It's not the sort of thing they feel they can discuss with their friends.
  • There has been no opportunity to share their story.
  • They are worried about bullying.
  • They worry that the family will be split up and that they will be taken into care.
  • They want to keep caring a secret and/or are embarrassed.
  • They see no reason to tell their story and don't believe that any positive action will occur as a result of doing so.

The impact of caring on a young person's emotional and physical wellbeing

Caring can affect a young person's:

  • Physical health: Young carers are often severely affected by caring through the night, repeatedly lifting a heavy adult, poor diet and lack of sleep.
  • Emotional wellbeing: Stress, tiredness and mental ill-health are common for young carers.
  • Socialisation: Young carers often feel different or isolated from their peers and have limited opportunities for socialising. A quarter of young carers in the UK said they were bullied at school because of their caring role (Carers Trust, 2013).
  • Stable environment: Young carers can experience traumatic life changes such as bereavement, family break-up, losing income and housing, or seeing the effects of an illness or addiction on the person they care for.

As a result, caring responsibilities have a significant impact on a pupil's learning

Young Carers Statistics

  • New research (2019) carried out by BBC News and Nottingham University have found that there are approximately 800,000 young carers in secondary schools in England, 6 in every secondary school classroom.
  • Young carers are 1.5 more likely than their peers to have a special educational need or disability.
  • Young carers are 1.5 times more likely than their peers to be from black, Asian or minority ethnic communities, and are twice as likely to not speak English as their first language. (Becker 2013)
  • 27% of young carers of secondary school age in England experience educational difficulties or miss school. This rises to 40% were they care for somebody with a drug or alcohol issue. (Dearden and Becker 2004)
  • If left unsupported, young carers can continue to struggle with school and have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level - the difference between nine Cs and nine Ds (The Children's Society, 2013).
  • Young carers are more likely than the national average not to be in education, employment or training (NEET) between 16 and 19. Of these, 75% had been NEET at least once (compared with 25% of all young people) and 42% had been NEET for six months or more (compared with 10% of all young people) (The Children's Society, 2013).
  • 40% of young carers report mental health problems linked to their caring responsibilities( NHS Long term plan 2019)
  • 46% of young carers between the age of 5 and 7 get up through the night to care for loved ones ( Carers Trust 2018)

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