A recent BBC News report has revealed there are as many as 800,000 young carers in England, with six young carers in every secondary school classroom.
The last census in 2011 found there were 166,000 young carers in England aged five-17 years, but charities and organisations working with young carers have long thought this was an underestimate.
The figures now reveal that more than a fifth (22%) of the children who completed a questionnaire provided some care for a family member with an illness or disability. Of those children, 32% were classed as doing a high level of caring, with nearly a tenth (9%) carrying out the highest amount of care. The questionnaire was completed by 925 children across England from two year groups – 11 to 12-year-olds and 14 to 15-year-olds. If the survey was extrapolated across England it would correspond to more than 800,000 secondary-school age children carrying out some level of care.
YSS (Your Support Service) is an independent charity providing support to some of the most marginalised people in society, including young carers aged seven to 25 who live in Worcestershire.
Lorraine Preece, YSS Chief Executive, told Charity Today:
“This new data confirms what we’ve long thought to be the case; although we currently support more than 450 young carers in Worcestershire every year, there are many more who need our help.
“This research blows all previous figures out of the water, highlighting just how great the need is to support young carers, and highlights for us all the need to take responsibility for these vulnerable children.”
Professor Saul Becker, a world leader on young carers research, who delivered a keynote speech at the YSS Worcestershire Young Carers conference in May 2017, said:
“These findings tell us, that as a nation, we are relying very heavily on children to provide care to other family members and in some cases to a number of family members. … There are many children in this country whose burden of care is so extreme that it would be really difficult, if not impossible, for many adults to do those kinds of care-giving roles for other people – but we are expecting children as young as five and six to [do them].”
Lorraine added: “These statistics highlight more than ever the need for our services and the number of young carers out there who are yet to receive the support they should be getting. I would urge everyone who is able to please consider supporting our work to ensure we can reach as many young carers as possible.”
What is Worcestershire Young Carers?
Worcestershire Young Carers has been successfully delivered by YSS since 2003. The service is commissioned by Worcestershire County Council to provide assessment, signposting, one to one support and monthly youth clubs for young people with a caring role at home, aged between seven and 17, who live in Worcestershire. Additionally, the service provides support to young people aged between 18 and 25 who are considered young adult carers. The caring role could be for a parent, a sibling or a grandparent due to illness, disability, physical or mental health difficulties or substance misuse.
YSS also employs an Education Link Worker who works in partnership with schools and colleges throughout the county to improve identification and support of young carers, ensuring they are safe, healthy, aspiring and achieving. The Education Link Worker strengthens ties with local schools and develops new relationships with schools not currently aware or engaging with the service. The Education Link Worker also delivers assemblies to pupils, identifies key contacts and responsibilities within schools and delivers presentations to staff teams – all with the aim of raising awareness of young carers and the issues they face. Since October 2017 when this work began, we have seen a significant increase in referrals from schools and colleges (38.8%) compared to the previous year.
How can you help?
As part of the service, YSS Worcestershire Young Carers delivers a wide range of trips and activities during school holidays to ensure young carers enjoy a break from their caring responsibilities and socialise with peers, and provides opportunities they would not otherwise have access to. These additional activities are only made possible thanks to donations from members of the public, as well as fundraising from individuals, groups, clubs, schools and businesses.
To help us support young carers who need our help, why not make a donation? Go to yss.org.uk/worcestershire-young-carers.
If you’re a young carer or you know someone who is, contact YSS today to find out about the support on offer. Email: email@example.com. If you are involved with a school or college and would like to work with YSS contact Education Link Worker, David King: firstname.lastname@example.org