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Fact sheet

Young carers charter

Have a look at the charter below - then click on the links to see the reality

We are children and young people who are also carers. We believe we should have the same rights as other children and young people, including the rights to:

• Be children as well as carers

Schools and colleges that give us the help we need to get an education

Fun, friends and time off from caring

Family life with well-supported parents

Practical help and support so that we don’t have to do all of the caring in our homes

A safe environment and protection from harm, including any harm that caring activities could cause us

Services that value our different backgrounds, cultures, religions, races and sexualities

Be listened to and supported by the people who support our parents and siblings

An assessment of what we need as individuals, without any assumptions being made about us

Be listened to and involved when people make decisions which affect our lives

Information about the health problems that we see our family members experiencing

• Advocacy and complaints procedures which we can understand and which work

• Stop taking on caring roles when we wish to

Move on and become independent adults

The Reality

Most young carers are not known to their schools or teachers. Many schools are inaccessible to disabled parents. Disabled parents cannot always accompany their children to school which can sometimes make getting to school more difficult. Carers benefit is available to some young carers aged 16 and 17 - but only if they give up college. Young carers need access to a phone so that they can phone home at break time, rather than staying off when they are worried about a family member’s health. When young carers fall behind with homework or take days off to care for someone, they need to hear a supportive but flexible message that their education is important too.

Young carers rely on Young Carers Projects to provide them with the activities that others take for granted and to meet friends who can understand what they are going through. Many have never had positive experiences of being in groups of young people before. Not all areas fund a Young Carers Project and most face a constant battle to stay afloat.

Parents who have care needs can often only access the support they need when their children are deemed to be “in need” or “at risk” – in other words, when there is problem and it is too late.

Services for adults do not always think about the needs of their children. Services for adults and those for children do not always work with each other, so young carers and their families fall through the gaps.

Young carers suffer from back injuries caused by lifting adults because there is often no one else around to help. They also suffer stress, interrupted sleep and are at risk of mental health problems.

Professionals sometimes make assumptions about what caring girls should take on rather than boys, or about the caring that is expected in black and minority ethnic families.

Few young carers receive an assessment of any kind, despite all being entitled to an assessment of their needs whenever the person they look after is assessed for community care. Young carers are often the unwritten part of community care packages for adults and disabled children.

Young people are often “protected” from the facts about the health problems in their family, leaving them to fear the worst and to care for someone without the necessary information. Even where confidentiality issues prevent information about another individual being shared, young carers can be given general information about the relevant health conditions.

Young carers’ decisions to move on are affected by being carers. Some reach breaking point and leave home suddenly without plans. Some miss out on qualifications or feel they cannot leave the person they care for.