Young Carers

 

The following questions about young carers are taken from an interview with Joanna Brown and Steward Betts for Carers’ Corner. Click on a question below to jump to it. Contact details can be found under question 11.

1. What is a young carer?
2. What ages are young carers?
3. What about when a young carer becomes 18?
4. How many young carers are there in Norfolk?
5. What kinds of things do young carers do?
6. What kind of problems do young carers face?
7. What support is there for young carers in Norfolk?
8. What is the Norfolk Young Carers Forum?
9. Have young carers been affected by recent cuts?
10. What do I do if I am a young carer or think there is a young carer in my family?
11. What do I do if I want to join the Norfolk Young Carers Forum?


1. What is a young carer?

A good definition is that Young carers are children and young people who look after someone in their family who has an illness, a disability, or is affected by mental ill-health or substance misuse. Young carers often take on practical and/or emotional caring responsibilities that would normally be expected of an adult. The tasks undertaken 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. The Princess Royal Trust for Young Carers, www.carer.org.uk.

Put very simply, a young carer is someone under 18 who looks after a family member who needs support due to a disability, illness or substance misuse.

Back to Top


2. What ages are young carers?

There are young carers as young as 4 or 5 years old who might be doing a significant amount of caring or support for a family member. This can be a parent, grandparent or often a sibling.

Back to Top


3. What about when a young carer becomes 18?

From 18 years of age a young carer would become a Young Adult Carer – the important thing is they would no longer be able to use young carers support services.

Back to Top


4. How many young carers are there in Norfolk?

Well this is a tricky one as many young people do not realise that they are a young carer. If a child or young person has always looked after someone they do not necessarily realise that this is any different from everyone else’s family situation.
In the 2001 census around 1700 young carers were identified in Norfolk. The BBC did some research last year which suggested that the numbers nationally are much higher than previously thought. If we apply their figures to Norfolk it would suggest that there are around 12,000 young carers in our county.

Back to Top


5. What kinds of things do young carers do?

This varies hugely depending on each individual family situation. Most young carers will help out with practical tasks such as cooking, housework, shopping and budgeting. Many young carers will provide some level of physical care which might be lifting, helping with physiotherapy as well as personal care such as dressing and washing. We know that many children and young people who are young carers will be helping a family member with their medication – this might be collecting it, helping with measuring and administration of medication or providing support to a family member to manage their own medication. Alongside all of these tasks young carers will provide emotional support and frequently also help with the parenting of younger siblings.

Back to Top


6. What kind of problems do young carers face?

The BBC study carried out last year indicated that many young carers experience bullying. We all know what it is like when you are younger if you appear to be ‘different’ in any way. Some young carers experience bullying about the family member they care for. Many young carers face difficulties in schools as they often fall behind with work due to their caring responsibilities. Attendance levels are often poor as young carers can feel very anxious about leaving their family member home alone. Lateness can often be an issue where a young carer has responsibilities for getting other siblings to school.

Young carers are often plagued by physical issues related to their caring role – this can vary from being fatigued to physical injury due to providing physical support to a family member.

Emotionally, being a young carer can be tough, most young carers feel frustrated about their caring role, at the same time feeling guilty about their anger and frustration. On a simple level many cannot socialise with friends a lot of the time as they are needed at home so this makes it more difficult to build and maintain supportive friendships.

Back to Top


7. What support is there for young carers in Norfolk?

There is a 1-to-1 service provided by Crossroads Care Norfolk Young Carers Project which gives young carers the opportunity to be linked with a Project Worker who will support them and their family. How this is done will vary depending on the needs of the young carer, it might be simply meeting up for a walk and a chat or for others it might be having a weekly therapeutic session with their worker to work through issues around anger or emotional problems.

There are also young carers groups across Norfolk. These are run by different voluntary sector organisations, many with funding from the County Council. These groups provide an invaluable chance for young carers to meet up with others who understand what it is like to be a young carer as they are all in the same position. Clearly everyone’s individual situation will be different but we know from talking to young carers that having a safe group to go to, where all the workers and other young people will understand your situation is incredibly important. These groups offer the chance to get together, to meet up with friends, to talk things through and also, and importantly, to have some fun. Groups are run for young carers as young as 4 up to 18 years of age. A list of current services and groups can be found online at the Every Norfolk Child Matters Website. www.everynorfolkchildmatters.org

There are also services aimed at working with schools to make sure they feel confident to understand the issues faced by young carers and to support them appropriately. Working with schools is an important service as this is where difficulties can arise if schools are not aware of how to support young carers effectively.

Back to Top


8. What is the Norfolk Young Carers Forum?

The Norfolk Young Carers Forum was set up with funding from the Big Lottery and run by Crossroads Care. The forum aims to give young carers the chance to come together, to speak up for the needs of young carers in Norfolk and to advise about services. Area forums are running in the South, Central, East and North areas of the county – with a further forum launching in the West in October. Young carers meet once a month to share experiences, take part in consultations, work with key service providers to advise about their needs as well as having some fun! Some young carers from each area also sit on the County Forum which is a hard-working group of young carers who spend one day a month together to work on improving the lives of all young carers in Norfolk. They do media work to raise awareness of young carers as well as working with the County Council and other key agencies to help shape support services for young carers. The forums are for young carers aged 11 – 18 who live in Norfolk.

Back to Top


9. Have young carers been affected by recent cuts?

Like everyone young carers have been affected as funding is harder to come by for those supporting them. Many organisations have reduced their groups to monthly meetings to make sure they can still run groups in all the areas across Norfolk. The deletion of Youth Services has hit many young carers aged 13 to 18 as most of the groups for this age group were run by Youth Services. The County Council has secured some funding to support this age group and it is hoped that groups for this age group will be available again from October of this year. This has left many young carers without a support group since March, April time which has been hard for them.

Back to Top


10. What do I do if I am a young carer or think there is a young carer in my family?

You can ring the Carers Helpline on Freephone 0808 808 9876 between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday. They will be able to put you in touch with services and support. Alternatively you can look at the Every Norfolk Child Matters website on The Trust section where the support services for young carers are listed. If you need to refer someone for 1:1 support you can contact the Norfolk Young Carers Project on 01379 676194 and speak to Christine Comacle-Smith the Senior Project Officer. Alternatively you can email Christine on christine.comacle-smith@crossroads.org.uk
If you do have internet access then another good place to look is YCnet a website run by the Princess Royal Trust for young carers which has webchats as well as really good information for young carers. This is atwww.youngcarers.net

Back to Top


11. What do I do if I want to join the Norfolk Young Carers Forum?

You can call Jo Brown, the Forum Participation Worker on 01788 298318 or email on joanna.brown@crossroads.org.uk.

Joanna Brown
Forum Participation Worker
Norfolk Young Carers Project
PO Box 821, Bungay, NR35 9AL

Tel: 01788 298318
07842 534758
joanna.brown@crossroads.org.uk

Stewart Betts
Service Development Manager (Vulnerable Children and Young People)
Norfolk County Council
Children’s Services Department
The Oaks
16, Harvey Lane
Norwich NR7 0BN

Fax: 01603 702972
Tel: 01603 437811

Back to Top

Carers Corner on Future Radio broadcast 25th July 2011 – Presented by Joanna Brown and Steward Betts

 Posted by at 7:37 pm