LETTER: No child should cope alone

Your letters
Your letters

Every day at least 195,000 children across the UK sacrifice their time to take care of loved ones at home.

While their peers are out playing and having fun being children, they’re busy providing physical and emotional support to a family member.

Finding time to do their homework alongside household chores, such as cooking and cleaning can be difficult, and some also have to help manage the family’s bills.

Unsurprisingly, many of these children and young people are deeply affected by their role and struggle to juggle their education and caring responsibilities.

More than half of young carers’ parents say their children have missed school. They’re also more likely to suffer from mental health issues and report having trouble making friends at school.

At Barnardo’s we give these children and young people the support they need through our young carers’ services so they realise they’re not alone.

Here they meet other young people in the same situation as themselves, get the professional support they need, and have a precious few hours every week to enjoy being children again.

We let them know they don’t have to cope with the pressures of a caring role on their own. This is crucial as we believe children should never be in a situation where they’re unsupported and overwhelmed.

A recent report published by the Department for Education shows nearly two thirds (64%) of all young carers who took part in the survey were not receiving any support.

These statistics mean many schools may not even be aware some of their pupils are young carers and are under extra pressure at home.

Government policy changes in recent years have been a step in the right direction putting a focus on identification of young carers so they can get help from social services and charities like Barnardo’s.

But as this recent report shows, too many are still slipping through the net possibly because the way young carers are assessed varies dramatically across the country.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has found as many as 130,000 young carers may be unknown to local authorities.

Her report states that of the 18,000 new young carers’ local authorities became aware of in the last financial year, a third were rejected without being assessed.

This must change and every young carer must be assessed by councils so they can get the support they need.

No child should ever have to cope alone.

Jonathan Whalley

Director Barnardo’s South-East and Anglia Region, Ilford


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