BBC Breakfast interview: Carers Trust’s CEO describes ‘huge challenge’ facing young carers and calls for more UK Government support
Carers Trust has given an in-depth interview to BBC Breakfast for a piece highlighting the incredible challenges faced by the UK’s one million young carers. The piece was broadcast on 2 January 2023. Unfortunately links to BBC Breakfast programmes are only live for 24 hours after broadcast and it is no longer possible to provide a link to the interview, so a screenshot is shown below.
The piece starts with reporter Lorna Gordon speaking to young carers in West Dunbartonshire, including 13 year-old Elise who cares for her mum who has reactive arthritis and adrenal insufficiency. Elise spoke movingly about how proud she is to care for her mum but how her caring role is almost a full time job that she has to manage on top of all her schoolwork. Kai, another young carer interviewed for the piece, said “we don’t get enough support and sometimes we go unnoticed”.
Presenters John Kay and Sally Nugent then spoke to Carers Trust’s CEO, Kirsty McHugh, to discuss the challenges young carers and young adult carers face across the UK.
Kirsty spoke about the “huge challenge” faced by the UK’s approximately one million young carers on a daily basis and the impact caring can have on their lives. Many, she said, are spending more than fifty hours a week on caring responsibilities. These responsibilities often include difficult tasks like administering medication to a family member, heavy lifting, doing the shopping and managing household finances. All this has to be managed alongside schoolwork and revising for exams, making it harder for young carers to get into university and higher education. Kirsty then cited recent Carers Trust survey results which found that over 30% of young carers were ‘stressed’ as a result of their caring role, and 40% were ‘lonely’. Most shockingly of all, she said, was that the survey had found that over 50% of respondents said they were not getting the support they need at school to balance their studies with their caring role, with many falling behind with their schoolwork.
The interview then moved on to the need for more support for young carers. Kirsty pointed out that while support is currently available via young carer services (including those delivered by Carers Trust’s network of local carer organisations) much more support is still needed. She described how Carers Trust wanted to see a Young Carer Lead appointed in every school to help identify young carers as a vital first step towards providing them with improved support.
The interview finished with a question on what Carers Trust wants to see in the UK Government’s implementation strategy on children’s social care which is to be published in early 2023. Kirsty emphasised the importance of “joined up action” across all areas affecting young carers. This should include more access to local support services, more support for young carers in schools as well as support for young carers entering higher education or moving into apprenticeships. She also highlighted how the UK Government should provide more funding for short breaks for young carers in England. This would mirror support already being provided to young carers in Scotland and Wales for respite breaks and is vital in helping young carers maintain good mental health and wellbeing.