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Landmark Young Carers Covenant launched to help millions of children

An influx of authorities, including governments, businesses and schools across the UK are now being urged by Carers Trust to sign up to this life changing new commitment.

To celebrate Young Carers Action Day, which occurred on 13th March, Carers Trust – a UK-based charity that aims to help young carers – launched a new Young Carers Covenant to help over one million young people.

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Drawn up by other young carers, the new scheme sets out 10 key goals which range from ensuring young carers are identified at the earliest possible opportunity to making sure they can access training and employment opportunities.

The latter is a fundamental practice the UK government are currently working on in an attempt to retain social care staff.

According to recent research, there are more than one million carers aged 18 and under in the UK – that’s two pupils in every classroom – and an estimated 600,000 others aged 18 to 25. Many are reliant on local carer organisations for support. At least 50,000 children and young people, including 3,000 aged just five to nine, spend 50 hours or more a week looking after ill or disabled family members.

In addition, a 2023 Carers Trust survey found that 33% of carers aged 25 and under, always or usually struggle to balance their job with school, college, or university work. Likewise, 40% said they don’t get the help they need when trying to juggle their education with caring.

Kirsty McHugh, Carers Trust’s CEO, said: ‘The lives of young carers in the UK are very different to those of their classmates. Many spend time making sure medication is taken by their loved ones, cooking meals and even running household finances.

‘Without proper support, these huge responsibilities can overwhelm young carers and have a devastating impact on their education and future prospects. Having a young carer lead and a policy setting out what support is available in every school would make a huge difference to their lives, helping to identify and support them.’

‘But it’s up to all of us to help every young and young adult carer reach their potential and have the same opportunities that we want for every child,’ Kirsty said. ‘By signing the Young Carers Covenant, everyone can commit to doing what they can to improve the lives of these young people. From identifying them early to ensuring they can access training, people and organisations across the UK can join the fight for a fairer future for all young carers.’

Organisations who have already signed up to help support Carers Trusts plea for help include South Tyneside Council and the Queen’s Nursing Institute.

Suggested actions include employers committing to more flexible working practices for young adult carers. Although, if a young carer is still in education, the charity is calling for schools and colleges to appoint a member of staff as a young carer lead, tasked with ensuring support is on hand.

Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, said: ‘As Children’s Commissioner I am committed to supporting all children to have the best possible opportunities especially young carers who face extra responsibilities and pressures.

‘When I speak to young carers, they tell me they often feel misunderstood and invisible. I have been calling for measures to be introduced for young carers to be identified as early possible and I very much welcome this initiative.’

Image: Michał Parzuchowski

More on this topic:

3 in 10 young carers in the UK think about self-harming

40,000 carers to benefit from a new career pathway scheme

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