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Supporting young carers in education

Carers Week focuses today on the support available for young carers in school. Here, young carer Lucy tells us about the support she has received from her primary school, her fears as she starts to think about the move to secondary school, and her longer term ambition to become a palaeontologist:

My name is Lucy I am in Year 6 at a primary school in Salford.

I have been supported by Salford Young Carers service for the last two years, since our social worker got in touch with them.

I have attended support groups and activities, where I’ve made good friends and learnt how to cope with difficult feelings. I am very proud of being a carer but at the same time it is sometimes frustrating and can be a real struggle.

I live with my Mum and my little brother. My Mum has a physical illness that affects her spine, causing her excruciating pain and making it difficult for her to move and walk. My Mum also struggles with depression and sometimes will drink too much when things get bad to try to make herself feel better.

My biggest wish is for my Mum’s condition to go away as I worry about her a lot. My little brother can be very fiery, and because my Mum is unwell she struggles to cope and he misbehaves a lot and breaks everything.

I feel bad for saying it but my Mum can’t do the stuff that other Mum’s do like get up in the mornings.

We get up late a lot. I get myself up and then I have to wake my Mum up and then get my brother up. Sometimes the electric’s gone off and that makes us even later for school.

When we go in to school late everyone stares as we go into our classes and then I struggle catching up with my work. I have just done my SATs – they went okay apart from the maths!

I worry about my Mum when I’m at school, I think about whether she can move or not. The family worker at my school knows that I am a young carer and she lets me leave my class and go to speak to her if I feel worried during the day and sometimes I call my Mum.

I’m worried about going to high school in September. Everything is bigger and scarier and I worry I might really struggle with the work. It’s really important for me to do well at school because I want to be an author or a palaeontologist. English is my best subject and maths is my worst because I’m not very good at doing sums in my head.

It is really important if you are a young carer to stay healthy and connected. I keep physically healthy by playing football and I try to keep emotionally healthy by talking to people about how I feel and through drawing and being creative. I stay connected by keeping in touch with friends and family and other young carers.

  • NHS England heard about Lucy through its work to support young carers. The NHS England Young Carers Health Champion programme was established in 2015 to support improved health literacy, promote health and wellbeing, and develop the capacity of young carers to participate in the planning and development of young carer-friendly services. It aims to support service change through young carer voices. For further information please contact Kath Rooksby: rooksby@nhs.net
  • Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers. It runs from June 11 to 17 and you can get regular updates at: #CarersWeek.

This Carers Week, we’re coming together to build communities that support the physical and mental health, and wellbeing of carers. Currently around 6.5 million people in the UK are carers; looking after a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health problem or who needs extra help as they grow older.

Caring can be a hugely rewarding experience, enriching relationships and bringing satisfaction and wellbeing. However, without the right support the unpaid care that the 6.5 million carers provide for ill, seriously ill or disabled loved ones often comes at a cost to their own health and wellbeing.

Some facts about young carers:

  • A BBC survey (2010) estimated there are more than 700,000 young carers in the UK
  • There are 376,000 young adult carers in the UK aged 16-25 (Census 2011)

Lucy is 11 years old and lives in Salford, Greater Manchester where she cares for her Mum and her younger brother.

To relax, Lucy likes to play football with her friends and enjoys art and other creative pastimes.

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