National action plan urgently needed to protect young carers' futures

  • 67% of young carers and 78% of young adult carers are more worried about the future since coronavirus.

  • 40% of young carers and 59% of young adult carers say their mental health is worse since coronavirus.

On Young Carers Action Day (16 March 2021 - see Notes to Editor for more information), Carers Trust is calling on governments across the UK to commit to developing new cross-cutting action plans to protect the futures of children and young people with caring responsibilities.

These plans are urgently needed to address a sharp downward spiral in the mental health of over one million young carers across the UK, and the adverse impact this is having on their aspirations, opportunities and hopes for the future.

A recent Carers Trust survey revealed high levels of anxiety and stress among young carers. The survey found two thirds (67%) of young carers aged 12 to 17, and 78% of young adult carers aged 18 to 25 were experiencing increased concern for their futures since coronavirus.

To address these challenges, national action plans should include clear actions that can be delivered at pace. They should address education, employability and health and wellbeing prospects among young people with caring responsibilities up to the age of 25.

To help make these national action plans for young carers a reality, Carers Trust is working with young carers across the UK to petition the Scottish, Welsh and UK Parliaments to ask statutory bodies to make meaningful commitments to deliver young carers’ rights across health, social care and education.

Welcoming the call for national action plans to protect young carers’ futures, world-leading researcher on young carers’ rights and Carers Trust Ambassador, Professor Saul Becker, said:

“During the pandemic, we have seen millions of people, rightly, furloughed to stay at home, paid by the government and told they must NOT work. On the other hand, carers of all ages, and especially carers under the age of 25, have been forced to stay at home because schools have closed, health and social care services have been cancelled, and young carers have taken on many of the responsibilities of statutory and other service providers, often on a full-time basis.

“It’s young carers’ turn for recognition and support. We desperately need national and local action plans to make sure that young carers are not left behind; that they are no longer ignored and invisible. We must safeguard their futures – and see this as a sound investment not a cost.”

Katharine is a young adult carer who has been caring for her mother since she was ten. She is also a member of a Steering Group for young adult carers set up by Carers Trust. She said:  

“When I was just ten I remember my grandfather showing me how to use a spreadsheet so I could manage basic household expenditure and budgeting. I’ve also had to attend doctor’s meetings with my mum, and learn when to speak up so the doctor has the right information. I didn’t know it at the time, but these experiences have given me really useful skills, as well as confidence, that I know I can use in my present academic career. It was only through being a young carer that I could have developed such skills at such an early age.” 

UK employers called on to protect young carers’ futures

Carers Trust is also urging UK employers to protect young carers’ futures by taking action, for example by acknowledging the unique skills and attributes young carers develop from an early age, such as time-management skills, resilience, empathy and a sense of responsibility for others.

We are already working with our corporate supporters to develop resources and provide experience to facilitate young carers’ pathways into employment:

  • With funding thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery we are building an internship training programme for young people with caring responsibilities.
  • Quilter plc and The Quilter Foundation are supporting young carers through funding and employee-led skills workshops.
  • With support from the leading online florist Bloom & Wild we are developing a series of workshops for young carers to gain invaluable workplace experience and insights (see Notes to Editor for more information on our work with employers).

Ends

Young carers and expert spokespeople from Carers Trust, including Professor Saul Becker and Carers Trust CEO Gareth Howells, are available for interview on request.

For further information, and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Matt Whitticase on mwhitticase@carers.org and 07824 539481.

Notes to Editor:

Young Carers Action Day is an annual event led and organised by Carers Trust. This year Young Carers Action Day takes place on 16 March. The day aims to raise awareness of the pressures experienced by young carers – children who need to look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol.

About our work with employers to protect young carers’ futures

We have developed three key steps employers can take to remove barriers blocking young carers’ paths into work and to make their workplaces suitable for young carers as they move into the working world.

Taking these steps not only helps us create brighter futures for young people with caring responsibilities. It will also widen your talent pool, giving you greater access to young people willing to develop the skills they have already learned as young carers and put them to practice in your business or organisation.

  1. Visibility: We call on employers to normalise conversations around caring, and for employees to share their own caring journey.
  2. Recognition: We call on employers to acknowledge and recognise the skills that young and young adult carers can bring to the workplace.
  3. Opportunities: We call on employers to offer opportunities to help young carers to start their career journey, building aspirations and skills and improving pathways to employment. This could be through updating existing programmes to become more inclusive for carers, or through tailored activities and programmes for young carers, such as career insights days and skills workshops.

Carers Trust is a major charity for, with and about carers. We work to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems.  

We do this with a UK wide network of quality assured independent partners and through the provision of grants to help carers get the extra help they need to live their own lives. With locally based Network Partners we are able to support carers in their homes through the provision of replacement care, and in the community with information, advice, emotional support, hands on practical help and access to much needed breaks. We offer specialist services for carers of people of all ages and conditions and a range of individual tailored support and group activities.

Our vision is that unpaid carers count and can access the help they need to live their lives.

Topics

UK / Young Carers Action Day / Young adult carers / Young carers

 

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