To mark the launch of a new website and online community specifically designed for unpaid young adult carers, the UK’s largest carers’ charity, Carers Trust, has commissioned a poll from YouGov to find out what people would be most prepared to give up if they had to become carers for a family member or friend.
The poll of 369 adults in Scotland found that 21% of respondents were most prepared to give up their social life – second only to those most prepared to give up travelling or going on holiday (25%). And when they were asked what age group first came to mind when thinking about unpaid carers, only 11% of people thought of carers as being 25 or under, the group of carers who are so easily overlooked and who can become isolated, and who the new website - Matter - has been designed for.
The survey shows how important the social aspects of life are to people – the very thing that young adult carers aged 16-25 can find hard to maintain.
It was with this in mind that Matter (http://youngercarersmatter.org) was created, to counter the isolation of caring. It works like a social media site such as Facebook, while also being a trusted source of advice. It was designed in close consultation with younger carers specifically recruited to help shape it to meet their needs for friendship and information.
Young adult carer Lennox Wood 18, who comes from Helensburgh, cares for her sister with autism, dyspraxia and special needs. Lennox says: “Caring has had a massive impact on my social life. I don’t get to socialise with my friends as often as I would like to. When everyone is out at parties, shopping or the cinema I will be at home helping my mum and dad look after my sister. I am not forced to stay at home but I feel it is my responsibility to carry out my caring roles and most importantly be a friend to my sister.
“I do often feel very isolated and left out when all my friends go out and I’m aware that my family miss out on the fun things like going on family days out and holidays, because it isn’t easy with my sister as she doesn’t like large crowds.
“The launch of Matter is very important as it allows the young carers up and down the country to keep in contact and communicate with each other. I think Matter will help us not to feel isolated or upset, as there is always going to be someone on there that has gone through the same or a similar experience."
The Matter site had been developed by Carers Trust as part of its About Time programme, using funds from The Co-operative, who raised £6m across the UK for young adult carers as The Co-operative charity of the year for 2013.
Michele Lambert, Head of Digital at Carers Trust said: “Support is not always available for younger carers, who are often leading stressful and demanding lives. It’s easy to become isolated and as our survey shows, the social aspects of life can be the hardest to maintain.
“That’s why we’ve developed Matter, which offers mobile-friendly access to advice and information, letting carers share problems and successes and providing a 24-hour, 7 days a week peer support system.”