This Young Carers Awareness Day we asked Kirsty, one of the young adult carers that we work with, to tell us if she feels that people recognise and support her in her caring role. This is what she said.
Today, Thursday 25th January 2018 is Young Carers Awareness Day. There are two types of young carers: young carers under the age of 18 and young adult carers between 18-25 years old. Young carers refers to young people who are caring for a family member with one or more of the following: addiction, mental health issues, physical disabilities, learning disabilities or a terminal illness.
What Do Young Carers Do?
Young carers do a range of tasks which may include: managing the household bills, going shopping for the family and attending medical appointments with family members as well as cooking, cleaning, looking after siblings and much more. Many young carers manage all this on top of attending school, college or University.
Raising Awareness of Young Carers in Leeds and Across the UK
In Leeds, young carers are quite lucky to have two support services: The Willow Young Carers project at Barnardo’s and the Young Adult Carer support service at Carers Leeds. These services provide a life line to young carers (including myself) as I feel that so many other services fail to recognise young carers.
Last week, I attended the Young Adult Carers National Policy Forum. From scribbling down my own notes there were a few key points and positive aspects:
Firstly, young carers need services to be able to recognise and identify them as well as providing joint up services that work together.
If you are/know a young adult carer in higher education and is caring for someone for 35 hours or more per week then they might be able to claim Carers Allowance. Many college or university courses are often registered and advertised as ‘full time’.
However, ‘full time’ is not always ‘full time’ in terms of the required hours of supervised teaching at your chosen institution. If your college or university course has less than 21 hours of supervised learning per week then you are still able to claim Carers Allowance.
There was a lot of focus on the mental health of young carers with organisations stating that they are going to respond to the Government’s Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health. Yes, young carers have mental health issues and our caring responsibilities are not the cause of our mental health issues. MindMate Leeds are also creating web pages for young carers focusing on their mental health.
Finally, the Learning and Work Institute have also created a ‘Positive Career Choices’ pack for young adult carers. The resources have been developed with carer services and young carers including myself and other young adult carers from Carers Leeds. The kit includes ‘Value My Skills Cards’, a work related Snakes and Ladders game and much more.
For further information check out the following websites: