for his family - Edward Briggs|
Inside Out looks at the lives
of young carers in the North West of England.
We look at two young carers
and how caring for parents and siblings has affected their lives.
Most teenagers expect a lie-in on a morning, but for
most young carers, the day starts early.
It's seven o'clock and
13-year-old Edward Briggs is making breakfast.
Homework and socialising
with his friends have to be fitted in around Edward's role as a young carer.
younger brother Thomas has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and
Aspergers Syndrome which means he needs looking after all the time.
and his mum Hazel share the caring role. He takes on a lot of his mum's jobs so
she can concentrate on Thomas' needs.
He cooks, cleans, helps with the laundry,
and supervises his brother when his mum is doing other jobs.
like a tag team," says Hazel.
There's just the two of them to do all
the work. The boys' father left when Edward was two and Thomas was nine months.
Edward has had to grow up fast.
Taking a break
is by no means alone.
A young carer
is defined as a child or young person under the age of 18 carrying out significant
caring tasks and assuming a level of responsibility for another person, which
would normally be taken by an adult.
A questionnaire of 150 young carers
across the UK found 82% said their school did not make any allowances for their
Forty per cent of carers said they had problems
getting their homework in on time.
The survey found 21 per cent of young
carers had trouble getting to school because of transport issues.
survey in 2004 found that 27% of all young carers of secondary school age experience
some problems at school.
Anecdotal evidence suggests many young carers
miss days off school to care for someone, can fall asleep in class, experience
bullying and feel isolated from their peers.
Source: The Princess Royal
Trust for Carers
According to The Princess Royal Trust
for Carers there are around six million carers in the UK and around 75,000 of
them are aged under 18.
Despite of the work the Trust does in offering
carers practical and emotional support, it fully admits that it is only scratching
It's estimated that there are 22,920 youngsters in the North
West coping with the extra responsibility of caring for someone.
Cochrane, from the Princess Royal Trust for Carers says, "I think the biggest
thing is the isolation."
It's hard on the young carers as they can
lose out on their childhood in many ways.
School is the one place Edward
can be a normal 13-year-old boy - it gives him a break from caring.
is often the only one who can calm his brother down.
When they were both
in the same school, it had a big effect on Edward's school life as he would be
called from his own class to deal with his brother.
Help at hand
things get too much for young carers, there is help at hand.
at Edward's school can make an appointment to see the school mentor to chat through
any difficulties or concerns.
Briggs juggles homework and caring at home|
It's also important
for carers like Edward to get a break.
We join Edward at a bowling session
organised by Carers Link at Accrington Superbowl, a group that provides support
and offers the children a chance to let off steam and forget their responsibilities
For many it's the only chance for them to relax and wind down.
also a chance for an informal chat about how things are going at home.
can talk to them about anything," says Edward who believes that activities
like this have helped to calm him down.
is now an adult, but he spent much of his childhood as a carer.
as a team - the Cash family|
He helped his dad look after his
mum Sue, who has MS, from an early age.
Stuart was given the freedom to
develop his own life but it's not been without its difficulties.
Sue Cash were always conscious that their son Stuart needed a life away from being
Ian has been Sue's full-time carer for Sue for 27 years which
has brought its own financial and emotional pressures.
He is now Chair of
the West Lancashire Carers Centre, which helps other carers with support and advice.
life of their own
Although things have improved in recent years for
carers as a result of legislation like the Equal Opportunities Act of 2004, there
is still room for improvement.
Many carers feel they are a silent majority
sacrificing their own careers and lives to help loved ones who otherwise could
cost the tax payer a fortune because they would need round the clock hospital
or respite care.
One of the biggest difficulties facing Edward and all
young carers is developing a life of their own - away from the home.
mum Hazel is hoping that the family will eventually get support from social services
to ease the burden on her and the son she's come to rely on.
that Edward is a fantastic help - she doesn't know where she would be without
"He's my rock... I'm proud of him," she says emotionally.
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