Many children and young people will find themselves taking on caring roles as parents and carers become ill with Covid-19.
For over 700,000 children who are already young carers, the pressures of lockdown and Covid-19 will bring new challenges.
Who are young carers?
Childline explains that a young carer is someone who looks after another person. Caring for someone might involve things you do every day like cooking and cleaning. Or you might have to do much more if your family member can’t do some things themselves.
Even if you aren’t the only one who is doing the looking after, you can be a young carer. Especially if you’re doing a lot more than just helping out occasionally and it takes up a lot of your time.
Why might a young person be a carer?
A young carer might look after someone because they’re sick, or they have a disability or mental health issues. A young person can also take on caring roles because a parent or family member has an alcohol or drug problem; they may be unable to care for themselves or anyone else.
It is vital that young carers get adequate support to help them through these difficult times.
What additional pressures are young carers facing during the coronavirus crisis?
The Children’s Society highlighted that young cares will face additional pressures during the lockdown:
- Home schooling is particularly difficult for young carers. Young carers will struggle to balance their care and school responsibilities. School also provides an important support network for young carers, since young people have access to trusted adults. This support has been removed during the lockdown.
- Local authorities have been released from their duties to carry out assessments for young carers moving into adulthood during the Covid-19 crisis. As a result, many young carers are missing out on support and future opportunities.
- Closure of health centres and community services has removed support for young carers and those they look after.
- The lockdown will put low income families under additional strains. Young carers will no longer have access to school meals and may have limited access to large stores. Many will struggle to access the supplies they need.
What support is available to young carers?
- It is vital that young carers safeguard their wellbeing. YoungMinds is a charity focusing on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing and they provide useful tips to support wellbeing through this difficult time.
- Carers UK has put together a list of ideas about how carers can help look after their own mental health and wellbeing during Coronavirus.
- Encourage young carers to speak to someone if they are struggling. Childline provides a helpline on 0800 1111 to support young people.
- Action for Children offers a live chat service to answer any questions young carers may have, listen and offer support at this time.
- Young carers may be worried about providing care and keeping their family safe. Carers UK has provided some information about providing care, including what the limits on going outside and getting close to others mean for those who provide care.
- Encourage young carers to contact their school if they are eligible for free school meals but have not yet received their £15 a week food voucher.
- Suggest young carers get involved in the research with Caring Together, who would like to find out more about the support young carers need during this time.
Encourage young carers to access support
Being a young carer can be challenging, even in more ‘normal’ circumstances.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on many young carers and their families due to the decline in support available and support being more difficult to access during this time.
Although services are adapting to remote working, there continues to be services available to support young carers throughout the pandemic. If you know someone who has caring responsibilities and would benefit from support, encourage them to get in touch with one of the organisations mentioned above.
The Ann Craft Trust continue to work remotely throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Please contact us if you need advice or have any concerns.