Young carers: The challenges being faced during COVID-19

Last updated at 06:56
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We spoke to Charlotte and Sydney, two young carers who look after their mum.

8 - 14 June is carers week.

A carer is someone who looks after a friend or a family member, whose illness or condition leaves them unable to care for themselves.

In the UK there are an estimated 800,000 young carers, according to the charity Action for Children, and this week is all about raising awareness of the challenges young and older carers face everyday.

Being a carer or a young carer at anytime can be difficult but how have things changed during the pandemic?

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67% of young carers surveyed by Caring Together expressed that their caring responsibilities have increased

Carol Iddon, deputy chief executive at Action for Children, said: "Children cook, clean and care unpaid for family members with little recognition of the work they do or the proper support they need."

It's estimated that there are 800,000 children and young people across the UK caring for a family member with a disability, illness or mental health problem - some as young as five years old.

According to the charity, coronavirus has made things worse. Because of lockdown young carers don't get a break from caring.

The people that they care for are likely to be in the high-risk groups who are shielding so lockdown has been especially hard for them.

So what has changed?

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Caring for a loved one can be tough, but there is a lot of support out there

A survey done by the charity 'Caring Together' showed that 80% of the young carers they support are feeling more alone than usual and that 59% of them aren't able to take a break from their caring responsibilities.

The same survey said that 78% of them felt this had led to a negative affect on their mental health and wellbeing.

"most young carers see school as a break, with there being no school young carers aren't getting the space and the support they would usually get from teachers and peers".

Andy McGowan, Caring Together

Dr Kate Blake-Holmes, from the School of Social Work, at the University of East Anglia, said that many young carers feel they can't complain about how they are feeling.

They feel like there are enough worries in the home right now, without their anxieties about their caring responsibilities adding to it.

Lots of charities are urging young carers to get in touch and talk to someone about those worries.

There is help out there though, Caring Together have stepped up their virtual interactions, having daily group video calls and phone calls to carers to ease the feeling of being lonely.

Action for Children has been reaching out to young carers over the phone to check in on families. They've also delivered food and other essential items to young carer families in need.

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "Barnardo's workers who normally meet and support young carers face-to-face are continuing to help children over the phone and by video chat, as well as delivering support packages which contain useful information and children's games.

"But COVID-19 has meant that more and more children are becoming carers for the first time so it's vital that they are identified and get the support they need."

There are also local support groups and social media pages all out there and ready to help.

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