Carers Week (7th – 13th June 2021) is an annual campaign aimed at raising awareness of the vital role carers play in our lives. It highlights the challenges unpaid carers face and recognises the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. The campaign also helps people to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
Young carers face many challenges - time, money and other responsibilities - making it less likely that they will engage in social action.
With the help of Red Nose Day cash and in partnership with the #iwill Fund, Comic Relief supports North Tyneside Carers Centre, which brings together young carers to identify areas of their lives that need change and develop creative social action projects to make that change a reality.
The following has been written for us by Niamh, who is 17 years old and cares for her younger brother. She shares her thoughts on why it is so vital to tackle stigma and ensure young carers’ voices are heard…
Carers’ centres all over the country employ hundreds of staff to support young carers dealing with many different circumstances. These centres especially help young carers with their mental health and well-being which is obviously an extremely important part of any person’s maturing experience. They employ an array of staff – from family support workers to social action manager – all of whom have been specially trained in carrying out risk assessments. They care for individuals and their families as well as notice behavioural differences and are trained to know how best to support carers in many situations.
Young carers’ voices should be heard loud and clear because of the stigma they face. The common belief is that young carers do badly throughout their education because of their immense responsibility at home. Other stigma comes from the belief that young carers only care for those with a physical disability. This is obviously completely wrong as disability comes in all shapes and sizes.
Over the last year, families have experienced hardships because of the coronavirus pandemic. For young carers this time has been as stressful as ever. Not being allowed to see friends and perhaps dealing with stressed parents and scared siblings at home, means that they have felt more responsibility than ever before.
That’s why carers’ centres are so helpful. Staff have been supporting young carers over Zoom and organising opportunities that still comply with government guidelines. Despite the struggles in their life, young carers continue to prove that they are strong, brilliant individuals that will without a doubt make a difference to society in the coming years.
Comic Relief has a long history of funding organisations who work with carers, enabling them to access the services and information they need to continue supporting vulnerable people whilst also looking after themselves and their own wellbeing. You can follow Carers Week activity on social media by searching #carersweek