Carer Support Wiltshire had its young carer team out visiting three Wiltshire secondary schools on Thursday 30th January for Young Carer Awareness Day.
The day aims to raise the profile of young carers and the theme for this year was Count Me In, calling for compulsory education providers to do more to identify young carers and provide the recognition and support they need to get the most out of their education.
Pupils at Wellington Academy, Ludgershall, Avon Valley College, Durrington and Lavington School, Devizes heard about the great work that young carers do, as well as the issues they can face. Students then had the opportunity to talk to Carer Support Wiltshire staff at a stand and find out how young carers can be referred for assessment and additional support.
A young carer is anyone under the age of 18 who is looking after someone else. It could be a parent, sibling or grandparent who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. Recent research shows that as many as one in five secondary school children may be a young carer. According to Carers Trust data, 23% of young carers feel their caring role has stopped them from making friends and the average young carer will miss or cut short 48 school days due to their caring responsibilities.
Sarah Lowkis, Headteacher at Lavington School says: “At Lavington School, pupil wellbeing is of utmost importance to us. Working with Carer Support Wiltshire has raised everybody’s awareness of the challenges that some of our young people face by caring for their family members as well as coming to school every day and keeping up with their studies.
“Pupils are very supportive of each other, and by openly talking about what it is like to be a young carer it has enabled them to have more empathy and has shown them practical ways to help each other out. We are very proud of all our young people, and recognise the huge achievement it is for some to come to school and do their best every day.”
Meg (20) and Connor (16) from Marlborough are siblings who are carers for their mum who has diabetes and regularly suffers from hypos and diabetic comas, especially during the night.
Connor says: “Me and my sister Meg are full time carers for my mum. We help around the house with cooking, cleaning and shopping, as well as helping with tasks she struggles with like getting dressed, reading, organising medications and helping her in medical emergencies. In the future, I hope to go to college and then hopefully university without worrying about leaving my mum at home.”
The family have been helped by Carer Support Wiltshire to access additional support and Meg is now studying at Plymouth University thanks to help applying for grants to help her finance her studies.
CSW Transition Assessment Worker Rachel Hamblin says: “Many of our young and young adult carers are unaware of the support that Carer Support Wiltshire can provide with accessing further and higher education. Every year we have been able to support more and more young carers who would not have even dreamed it was a possibility to go to university.”
Carer Support Wiltshire also have a website just for 16-25 year olds at yacbook.co.uk.