Young carers get vocal on Young Carers Action Day

On Young Carers Action Day, the young carers of Bristol and South Gloucestershire have spoken out on the theme of the day – Make Time for Young Carers. 

In listening to young carers, their main issue is how important their health and well-being are to them. Young carers understand how important looking after themselves is in enabling them to look after others. 

And the health and well-being of young carers in Bristol and South Gloucestershire are a cause for concern. This was shown in our recent survey of young carers at Carers Support Centre.  

The survey showed that more children and young people are doing more caring than ever, with 60% saying they were providing more care than the previous year.  

And the pressure of that extra care is starting to tell, particularly in young carers’ mental health. The survey reports increased instances of depression, anxiety, stress and loneliness. But most worrying is the 21% of young carers who say they self-harm, a marked increase on the figures for the previous two years.  

Other health problems young carers reported in large numbers are difficulties with sleeping and problems with their relationship with food. Overall, a third of young carers feel unhealthy.  

The pressure of caring also impacts on the schooling of young carers, with 10% missing school and 43% falling behind with schoolwork. Only 27% say that they are happy in school. Reports of bullying and inability to concentrate add to the picture.   

What young carers told us was that it does not need to be this way. They think the things that would make them feel less overwhelmed, healthier and happier are: 

  • improved support in schools 
  • more access to breaks, 
  • better access to counselling support 
  • and more financial support 

And the most important element in improving the situation is that people make time for young carers.  

For professionals and responsible adults they come into contact with, this means making the time to listen to the needs of young carers. Once those needs are understood, it is also about making time to put the support into place that young carers need to balance their caring role with their education, training and well-being needs.  

In the videos for Young Carers Action Day, as well as addressing professionals, local young carers also talk to their peers about the importance of making time for themselves and tips on how to go about it. 

At Carers Support Centre, through our Young Carers Service, we are dedicated to making time for young carers. Last year:   

  • We carried out 288 young carers assessments   
  • We delivered 388 one-to-one support sessions (online, phone and face-to-face) providing support and advocacy to young carers  
  • We provided 686 breaks to 212 young carers  

That work is making a good impact on the lives of Young Carers. For instance, 47% of respondents said that our service was instrumental in reducing their sense of loneliness and isolation, a 19% increase from the previous year.

Those figures show that it pays to make time for young carers. 

As our survey show, being a young carer can have a huge impact on wellbeing, education and life chances.

We have signed the Young Carers Pledge to ensure that all young carers can benefit from the rights that they have and get the support that they need and deserve.

On Young Carers Action Day, join us in signing the Young Carers Pledge.