By Sana Sarwar
According to a recent report by the charity Carers Trust young carers aged 5-8 are amongst the most hidden and least supported group of unpaid carers in the UK.
A young carer is someone aged between 5-18 years old who helps look after a relative or friend who has either a disability, illness, mental health condition, alcohol or drug problem.
Most young carers look after one of their parents or care for a brother or sister. They do extra jobs around the home, such as cooking, cleaning, helping someone to get dressed and move around and even offer emotional support.
As the London finalist for the Media Trust initiative ‘Breaking Into News’, I had the rare opportunity to create a news report with ITV London on a topic I am passionate about. In the hope of getting minority voices heard through a major news platform.
This opportunity gave me a real insight into life as a ITV reporter whilst equipping me with vital skills to be a broadcast journalist such as researching, scripting, filming and editing. All whilst being mentored by ITV London reporter Ria Chatterjee.
Having been a young carer at a young age and unaware of the term ‘young carer’ due to the stigma attached in some communities, I wanted to bring awareness of the issue so youngsters who are taking on caring roles are aware of their rights and the support that is available.
A recent report by the Carers Trust found that young carers under eight years old are often unsupported because no-one expects them to be taking on adult responsibilities. Support services aimed at young carers often only start from age eight.
However under new laws brought in last year under the Children and Families Act and Care Act this placed responsibility on authorities to actively identify young carers and support them.
Through my research I found that there are many respite centres and charities that work with young carers in providing counselling, home support and even activities and days out for children to have a break.
Having visited a respite centre and speaking to young carers as young as eight who take on caring responsibilities such as giving medicine. It was clear to see respite centres offering support play a vital part in a young carer’s life helping them built up their confidence whilst also helping them juggle school and home life.
A survey conducted by the Carers Trust on 350 young carers found that 48% of young carers said being a young carer made them feel stressed whilst 80% said they miss out on what other children their age are doing because of their caring role.
Young carers should not be facing their responsibilities alone with respite centres and charities across London help and support is always available.
To find out more about the Breaking Into News Scheme visit www.breakingintonews.co.uk