Today is Young Carers Action Day, where we reflect on the struggles faced by children and young people across Bristol who are caring for someone at home. Young carers are just kids, yet they care for someone who simply could not manage without their help, whether that is for a parent, sibling, or another family member.
The average age of a young carer in the UK is just 13 years old, and some are as young as eight. Research by the BBC and Nottingham University estimated that one in five children in England carry out some care responsibilities, meaning there could be over 18,000 young carers across Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
Young carers carry the heavy responsibility of caring for someone in their home who is sick, disabled or unable to care for themselves. This can result in young carers feeling isolated and lonely, missing out on childhood opportunities, and being bullied by their peers.
The YCAD theme this year is ‘Taking Action on Isolation’ with carers identifying that by having the right support in place – including breaks from their caring responsibilities – it can help to reduce isolation and boost wellbeing.
Bristol City Council works with the Carers Support Centre to help support young carers across our city. This support ranges from needs assessments to one-to-one and family support as well as facilitating regular young carer groups and activities.
Currently there are just under 500 young carers registered with the Carers Support Centre’s young carers service. This service is vital in supporting young carers in Bristol and I want to express my gratitude for everything that they do.
The organisation’s annual survey shows the challenges facing young carers with:
- 70% of young carers saying that the impact of their caring responsibilities had got worse
- 77% said they felt low or depressed
- 92% said they were anxious and worried
- 90% said they were stressed
- 39% said they want more support in school
These results show that there is more to do to improve the support provided for young carers as well as educating professionals to better understand their needs.
To mark Young Carers Action Day, the Carers Support Centre organised two events in Bristol and South Gloucestershire helping to bring carers together to have fun, take a break from their caring role, feel better connected with each other and have a sense of belonging.
One event took place yesterday at the You Foundation in Staple Hill in partnership with local schools, and the other takes place at The Station in the city centre. These events provide opportunities for young carers to seek out the different local support services that are available to them. Finding this type of support can help hugely with combating the feelings of being isolated or alone as a young carer.
Alongside this support, it is important that we identify all young carers and their families in our city, to let them know of their right to an assessment and ensure that they can access the support they need. If you know of someone who is a young carer, or a young person you think may be caring for an adult you can find out more about support from the council here.
To learn more about the Carers Support Centre and how to make a young carer referral please visit their website or call 0117 958 9980.