Volunteers are urged to step forward to provide support and help to young carers across Somerset.
A Young Carer is anyone under 18 who provides regular care by helping to maintain the health, safety or day-to-day well-being of the person they care for – as well as the wider family.
The Council is looking for ‘Young Carer Volunteers’ who do invaluable work alongside Council Staff to support children with caring responsibilities. The main role of Young Carer Volunteers is to assist at the various groups and trips that take place across the County giving Young Carers valuable respite and social opportunities.
In four out of five cases, Young Carers may not even be aware they are ‘carers’ and can often go hidden or unrecognised in school or within their community. This means they go through childhood without any support which can cause problems with friendships, health or education for the rest of their lives.
Cllr David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council and Volunteering Champion, said: “Volunteers are needed to help the 300 Somerset young carers our service supports each year. This is an incredibly valuable volunteering role that really makes a huge difference to the young carers, their families and their future. A huge thank you to those who have some time to spare.”
Young Carer responsibilities could include helping to care for a physically disabled parent or sibling or a parent experiencing mental ill health, alcohol or drug misuse. They may give personal care and medication, and help someone to dress or move around.
It could also include looking after siblings, paying bills, cooking, cleaning, shopping or translating. Some may not give any physical care but provide emotional support, particularly for someone who has a mental health illness or misuses substances.
Young Carer Imogen helps care for her mum. She said: “If I didn’t have Young Carers (Volunteers and Support Group) in my life, it would have been extremely difficult. The Young Carers Service has helped me get support in school and at home and offers me time out for myself.”
Volunteer Dianne said: “I wanted to contribute some of my time as a volunteer to ensure it is possible to give these Young Carers some lighter moments and trips to look forward to. I attend a Young Carers’ youth club where the carers get to do fun activities and enjoy a meal together. I get to see these carers just be free to relax have fun and laugh together. These can only go ahead with the help of volunteers like me. I am so pleased and honoured to help these young people in the time I can give to them.”
If you want any more information about carer services, please contact Somerset Direct on 0300 123 2224.
For further information, please contact the Press Office on 01823 355020 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
- Latest census statistics revealed there were 166,363 young carers in England in 2011, compared to around 139,000 in 2001. This is likely to be an underrepresentation of the true picture as many remain under the radar of professionals.
- There has been an increase of 35% in unpaid carers aged 5 to 17 years old, between 2001 and 2011 in the South West region (Office for National statistics)
- 50% of Young Carers care for ten hours or fewer per week, one third for 11-20 hours per week, and 16% for over 20 hours per week, 2% care for more than 50 hours each week.
- Young carers are 1.5 times more likely than their peers to have a special educational need or a disability.
- The average annual income for families with a young carer is £5000 less than families who do not have a young carer.
- Young carers have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level, the equivalent to nine grades lower overall than their peers e.g. the difference between nine B’s and nine C’s.
- 27% of young carers of secondary age experience educational difficulties or miss school and where pupils are caring for someone who misuses drugs or alcohol, 40% have educational difficulties.
- Young Carers aged between 16 and 18 years are twice as likely not to be in education, employment or training (NEET) (Adult commission, 2010)
(Statistical information taking from the Children’s Commissioner survey, 2016)
- In Somerset, there are estimated to be 58,000 unpaid carers who give their time to care for a disabled or unwell relative, friend or neighbour.
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