Carers Week 2021: supporting young carers putting the needs of others first

Carers Week is an annual campaign recognising the contribution carers make to families and communities throughout the UK. There are around 6.5 million carers the UK, caring for either a relative or friend with an illness disability, mental health condition or a substance abuse problem.

There are 800,000 young carers in the UK yet young carers are often an unseen part of the care community. Thanks to support from the Duke of Cornwall’s Benevolent Fund, the Foundation is able to offer funding to give young carers the opportunity to enjoy themselves free from their caring role and responsibilities. A young carer is anyone aged 18 or under and where their duties go beyond what would be expected for a person of their age.

Saltash Community School received a grant from The Duke of Cornwall Benevolent Fund. The school has 76 young carers within it and the amount of caring they provide at home varies greatly. A few are sole carers for a parent and others are part of a family who care for a parent or sibling. About 10% of the young carers receive support from charitable organisations, for others the only support they get is in school. The School aims to give the young people a healthier lifestyle, regular group sessions and a place to go when they feel stressed or worried.

One group of the young carers meet once a week for an hour giving them the space and time in which they can relax or talk to others about the situation at home. Another group meet fortnightly, this is so they don’t miss any GCSE classes. The award from The Benevolent Fund helped to buy fresh fruit and cooking ingredients for the groups weekly meetings and monthly cooking sessions.

The Student Support Officer at Saltash Community School said, “Many of the young carers take great pleasure in making food & gaining independence. Some of our young carers do not have a very healthy diet due to limited resources at home so they appreciate being able to have a piece of fresh fruit when they come to school. These sessions are a way of nurturing young carers who spend a large proportion of their time putting the needs of others first.”

Saltash Community School reports that the support provided to young carers has a positive impact on the young peoples’ mood, ability to learn and ability to fulfil their caring roles. It is vitally important that the contribution all carers including young carers make to their families and local communities is recognised and that they get the support needed.

For more details and to apply to the Duke of Cornwall’s Benevolent Fund for Young Carers, please click here.