Thursday 31 January is Young Carers Awareness Day, a national day of recognition for the UK’s 700,000 young carers, led by Carers Trust.
As part of their #CareForMeToo campaign, this year’s focus is mental health and, with an estimated 7,300 young carers in Sheffield alone, local charity Sheffield Young Carers (SYC) is urging the city to recognise the serious impact that caring can have on a child or young person’s mental health.
Last year 58% of young carers supported by the charity were caring for a family member with mental ill health. And national statistics show that mental health problems are worryingly prevalent among young carers too.
According to a Carers Trust survey , 48% said that being a young carer made them feel stressed. Another survey revealed that 38% of school-age young carers had mental health problems of their own and, according to another Carers Trust statistic , this percentage rises with age: 45% of young adult carers aged between 16 and 25 report mental health problems.
Caring for someone who is ill or disabled can be extremely challenging for anyone, let alone for a child or young person. That’s why Sheffield Young Carers are working tirelessly to identify every young carer in Sheffield and to raise awareness of the many issues facing them – not least the impacts on their own mental and physical health.
Sheffield Young Carers also offer practical and emotional support to young carers like Jenny.
“I’m Jenny and I’m 12 years old. I started to care for my mum when I was five years old. She has back problems so I do the washing, lifting, cooking and sometimes I help her put her socks or shoes on. It’s hard for me because I am an only child and I only have my dad to help with caring for my mum.
“Compared to those who don’t have caring roles, I hardly get a break away from my caring and hardly get out at weekends. I don’t have a high social status with friends and I have been so mentally stressed that I’ve become physically ill.
“With support from Sheffield Young Carers I’m much more confident now and I have made new friends for life.”
But it’s not just Jenny who has benefited. Here are just a few things young carers have said following support from Sheffield Young Carers:
‘I’m doing more things, [I have] people to talk to and I am more confident [which has] helped with anxiety.’
‘[I now] understand more about mental health.’
‘[I have] overcome my anxiety [and I am] more confident around other people, more comfortable with my feelings.’
Being a young carer clearly isn’t easy. But the good news is that you can help.
– If you would like to make a donation to support Sheffield Young Carers, visit www.sheffieldyoungcarers.org.uk or text SYCP20 followed by £3, £5 or £10 to 70070 today. Every gift, no matter how small, will help Sheffield Young Carers to continue supporting young carers all over the city.
– If you are an education or healthcare professional, visit www.sheffieldyoungcarers.org.uk to find out how you can help Sheffield Young Carers to identify and support young carers in your area.
– Help to make life that little bit easier for them by signing Louise Haigh MP’s petition for free transport for young carers today: www.sheffieldyoungcarers.org.uk/news/sign-our-petition (You will be helping them to undertake their caring responsibilities more easily, carry on with their education, training or employment, and potentially enjoy a social life – which young carers often miss out on.)
– Or to simply find out more about Sheffield Young Carers and to sign up to their regular e-newsletter, visit www.sheffieldyoungcarers.org.uk
For more information please contact Sara Gowen, Managing Director, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Katie Borland, Director of Funding, by emailing email@example.com
For general information, please visit www.sheffieldyoungcarers.org.uk