This week is National Carers Week, an opportunity to highlight the challenges faced by those caring for loved ones and to recognise the enormous contribution that carers make to their families and communities in Herts.
Surprisingly not all carers are adults, there are approximately 700,000 young people aged under 18 with caring responsibilities in the UK.
Being a young carer can have a real impact on day to day living; Carers Trust research states that 1 in 20 young carers will miss school because of their caring role and sadly 26 per cent have been bullied at school because they have caring responsibilities.
Hertfordshire County Council and partner organisations provide support for young carers and their families through Families First, the collective name for Early Help Services in Hertfordshire.
The aim is to identify families and provide the support that they need as early as possible to prevent their children from undertaking an inappropriate or excessive caring role that could have a negative impact on their lives.
Support for young carers is delivered through a dedicated Young Carers team, as well as other teams within Children’s Services including YC Hertfordshire, Intensive Family Support and Targeted Youth Support Services.
Hertfordshire County Council also commissions Carers in Hertfordshire to provide support to young carers with low level or developing needs.
Families First works with wide range of partners to identify and support young carers and their families in the county such as children’s centres, schools, colleges, GPs, School Nurses, Adult Care, GP’s, mental health services, housing, voluntary and community organisations and social care teams.
Support may include:
- Home visits from a young carer advisor or practitioner to understand the caring role the child is undertaking and how best to support the family.
- The chance to meet other young carers in a similar situation, who know what it’s like to care for somebody.
- The chance to have a break and some fun with other young carers by taking part in trips and group activities.
- The opportunity for young carers to talk about things that affect them and get support through a mentor.
- Support through big changes in life, like moving to secondary school, choosing subject options for GCSE’s or moving into work or further education.
Teresa Heritage, Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “In Hertfordshire, we want our young people to enjoy a happy, healthy and safe childhood that gives them the foundations for adulthood and the opportunity to get the best out of life.
“Young carers make a huge contribution to our society, and their responsibilities can have an effect on their own childhood experiences, therefore it’s important to make sure that they have the time and space to meet friends, socialise and access the same opportunities as other people their age.
“We work with a range of organisations to identify and provide the support that young people and individual families need, however sometimes young carers don’t feel confident in asking for help and so we want them to know that they’re not alone and we would encourage anyone with caring responsibilities to contact us so we can help or support in some way. No support or help is too big or too small”
Anyone can make a referral to either of these services or contact them for more information or advice:
Call the Families First Young Carers Team on 0300 123 4043 or visit www.hertforshire.gov.uk/familiesfirst
Call YC Hertfordshire on 0300 123 7538 or visit www.ychertfordshire.org