Over 200 young carers regularly receive help and support from Somerset County Council – but it is keen to reach others.
Young carers are unpaid carers under 18 who give their time to provide regular care for a disabled or unwell relative, whilst also attending school and managing the usual changes of growing up.
Somerset County Council supports 300 young carers (200 regularly) every year through the Young Carers Project. This Project provides much needed respite and gives each child a support worker who can listen and guide the young carer emotionally and practically with their caring role.
The Young Carers project offers young people evening activity groups across the county, days out in school holidays and has links with schools and adult services.
It can also provide counselling support to young carers who need it. Young carers have a right to an assessment and this ensures that their caring role does not become inappropriate or excessive to their health, education or well-being.
Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Councillor Frances Nicholson said: “This is an important service that is sometimes overlooked, mainly because people don’t realise the caring role many young people have.
“Our Young Carers Support Service provides support, advice and respite breaks for children and young people under 18 who have substantial caring responsibilities at home. This could be helping to care for a physically disabled parent or sibling, or a parent experiencing mental ill health, alcohol or drug misuse.
“We want to support young carers in their role and encourage families to get the help that’s available for them. If you think you are a young carer, or you know someone who is a young carer and isn’t in touch with us already, please do get in contact.”
The Young Carers service takes referrals from across a range of agencies such as education, health and social care, but families are also encouraged to refer themselves.
Anna, a young carer, said: “Being a young carer is tough, but staff from the project are there for you throughout it all. Most people I tell about my situation don’t take it seriously. Without Young Carers my life would be so much harder than it is right now as I would not have any breaks from caring.”
And Imogen, who helps care for her Mother who has MS, said: “If I didn’t have Young Carers in my life, it would have been extremely difficult. Young Carers has helped get me support in school and at home and offers me time out for myself.”
Somerset County Council can help young carers request a Carers Assessment. Contact 0300 123 2224 for more information or check out www.somerset.gov.uk.