A regular column by Fiona Prinzi of Swindon Carers Centre
We all know that feeling when school is out for the summer holidays and we look forward to freedom from routine, lazy starts to our mornings and maybe some fun activities or a holiday away from home. Young Carers may not be able to enjoy time out as they should, as their caring roles increase over the holidays and their focus is not on their own needs but those of their ‘cared for’ loved ones.
Young Carers are children under the age of 18 who provide regular and ongoing support to a family member or friend, who has a long term illness, disability, dependency problem or other complex need. Their caring roles can include personal care, cooking,cleaning,administering medication and organising household finances.
Swindon Carers Centre currently supports 700 Young Carers from the age of 5 years old, but research tells us that 75% of Young Carers remain unrecognised and unsupported. The 2011 census states there are over 166,000 Young Carers in England alone and a BBC survey shows this is more likely to be 700,000.
It is vitally important schools and colleges know how to identify and support Young Carers and we are delighted to see so many in Swindon providing such amazing support every day. We have a dedicated Schools Development Officer, Ann Giles, who is working with 49 Swindon schools and academies to guide them through the Young Carer Award – a special award designed by Young Carers in Swindon and fully funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
As your school starts to look towards the Summer holidays, spare a thought for the Young Carers in your school who will not be getting a break from their caring roles. If you would like to join the community of schools who are achieving the Young Carer Award, please contact Ann Giles at Ann.Giles@swindoncarers.org.uk.