To raise awareness of Young Carers Action Day on 16 March we asked schools and businesses across the county to wear purple and Bedford Borough Council to light up the town bridge purple, the official colour of our charity’s campaign.
This was on the same day Carers Trust published its new survey findings that identified a steep rise in caring hours for young carers, with many feeling stressed, lonely and worried.
We encouraged businesses, carers, schools and members of the public in the local area to wear purple and donate money, to help the charity to carry out the valuable support it provides to young carers. Carers in Bedfordshire receives some Government funding, but also relies on grants and donations to provide young carers with one-to-one support, training, workshops, clubs, young carer breaks and peer mentoring.
We joined forces with MK Young Carers and Bucks Young Carers for young carers to take part in a fun-filled quiz.
Young carers from Bedfordshire also featured in the reading of a poem ’Who Am I?’ which was produced by the Young Carers National Voice network, which joins together young carers from different areas of the country to campaign collectively on the issues that are important to them. The poem aims to raise awareness of the pressures experienced by young carers on the national day of action.
Young Carers Alliance
On the eve of the day of action, we joined a coalition of more than 30 organisations and individuals from a wide range of sectors including health, education, social care and the voluntary sector to launch a new network, the Young Carers Alliance.
The new ground-breaking alliance aims to bring change for young carers through opportunities for information-sharing, collaboration and a stronger collective voice for young carers and those who support them.
It is estimated there are more than one million young carers in the UK. A young carer is a child who needs to look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. They take on tasks such as cooking, cleaning and shopping, helping with physical care, personal care, emotional support, managing the family budget or collecting prescriptions and giving medicine.
Janice Styles, Young Carers Co-ordinator at Carers in Bedfordshire, said: “The knock on effects of caring can seriously affect young carers’ education, mental health and well-being, as they take on a lot of responsibility, at such a young age. Young Carers often experience isolation, difficulties coping at home, problems at school, lack of social experiences and can need information and advice on the illness or disability the person they care for may have.
“That’s where we step in to provide that much needed support and also celebrate the role of a young carer. We want them to feel proud of themselves for all that they do and recognise they have picked up some amazing skills in their caring role, which will help them as they grow older.
“We’re also hoping the new Young Carers Alliance we’re joining, will help the thousands of young carers across the country to get identified earlier and receive the essential support they need.”
Research from Carers Trust
Findings from the new Carers Trust survey reveal how a dramatic rise in time spent caring, is leaving thousands of young carers across the UK feeling ‘lonely’, ‘exhausted’, ‘worried’, ‘burned out’ and ‘stressed’. Those pressures have been greatly exacerbated by the pandemic. Many essential services for those being cared for by young carers were closed because of lockdown. That left young carers and young adult carers to take on even further caring responsibilities.
And while the pandemic is moving into a less acute phase, Covid continues to negatively impact the lives of young carers. The findings published yesterday revealed:
Young Carers School Award
To help support young carers in schools, Carers in Bedfordshire earlier in the year launched its Young Carer Schools Award. The charity, with young carers, devised ten standards for schools to meet, to enhance young carers’ education and participation in school life.
Janice: “Supporting young carers in schools is so important and has been highlighted in Ofsted’s Inspection Framework. Our award, which we work with schools to help achieve, helps them to develop a culture of acceptance, understanding and support for young carers.
“For young carers, school can be a place where they are under extra pressure or where people do not understand what their life is like outside of school. We work with schools to understand there are lots of ways they can help young carers. Examples include being allowed to use a phone during breaks and lunchtime, so the young carer can check on the person they’re looking after or running a lunchtime group or homework support group for young carers.”
To find out further information about how Carers in Bedfordshire supports young carers visit www.carersinbeds.org.uk/who-we-help/young-carers