Who is a Young Carer?
A Young Carer is someone aged 18 or under who helps to care for a relative with a disability, chronic illness, mental health condition, drug or alcohol problem. Depending on individual circumstances, a child can either be a carer for one chronically ill parent or both parents, have the secondary responsibility of caring for a sibling or any other member of their family. There are children as young as 5 years old with such responsibilities but reports show that the average age for a Young Carer in the UK is 12.
Young Carers Project aims to offer an accessible service for children in the borough of Lambeth by providing support, activities and a range of fun days out. They identify and cater to Young Carers emotional well being by first arranging to meet with them and their family to discuss what kind of support and respite will be most beneficial for them through the charity.
The Importance of Young Carers Project
During mid 2014 Lambeth Council worked on revamping Young Carers Project by providing new services to protect vulnerable children and for adults to get support where needed. This meant that they were able to cater to more unpaid Young Carers aged 5-18, only there was a massive gap between the service provided for carers. As soon as you turn 18 you’re no longer a service user and it’s only then available for older carers who are 55 years of age and older.
Eighteen is an age where a lot of changes are happening for young adults; you’re finally recognised legally as an adult in society and you have important decisions to make regarding what you will do with the rest of your life. Will you further your education and go to University? Will you apply for a job or start looking for an Apprenticeship? These are just some of the decisions that could leave young adults confused and a little lost. As a Carer, responsibilities carry on passed the age of 18 which means although you may not be recognised as a Young Carer anymore as far as service support goes, you’ll still need as much guidance as possible around that impressionable age. Recognising this unfortunate gap in Lambeth services Young Carers Project wanted to start a Young Adult Carers group in order for youths to carry on receiving much needed support. With a lot of phoning around and encouragement, Young Adult Carers group for 16-25 year olds was made available for Lambeth citizens in 2016.
“As a young carer I always come back from ‘holiday’ knackered. It might have been a ‘break’ and yes the change of scenery was nice but the reality is caring never ends” – Young Adult Carer
“It’s so important for us young carers to have a break. Caring for a loved one is physically, emotionally and mentally draining. We want nothing more than to relieve our loved ones from their pain but for us to be useful we have to also recharge ourselves without feeling guilty and Young Carers Project gives us the break we need” – Young Adult Carer
The Art Exhibition – Raising Awareness
In late 2017 a small team of Young Adult Carers grouped together and began working extremely hard to organise an Art Exhibition, in order to showcase – the ‘Life of a Young Carer’. This exhibition successfully took place on Saturday, 5th May 2018.
The aim of this event was to raise more awareness for Young Adult Carers in our society, with the hopes of securing future funding in order to continue providing a respite service for such young ones who still have the responsibility of caring for a relative.
Planning for the event was dependent on the Young Adult Carers regularly meeting up to discuss suitable venue options for the exhibition to be held, producing art work to express and share their experiences of being a young carer in Lambeth, taking photos of their daily activities as a young carer and showing how they juggle their home life with education. They also challenged themselves to write a short film script, directing and acting in this original film which they were proud to show to visitors on the day of the event. They had 6 months to work as a team to complete all the necessary tasks to pull of this awareness event, and boy did they deliver and show what an absolute honour it is to have them as part of our community.
Lambeth Young Carers hard at work during an Art session activity during April half-term
Lambeth Young Carers Mosaic
There was an opportunity to attend two different time slots for the exhibition, one for the afternoon and one in the evening, this gave time for anyone interested to attend; family, friends, funding representatives and more . All in attendance had a chance to witness how much extraordinary talent Young Carers have, many talents that might have still been hidden if they never had the chance to be a part of important charities such as Lambeth Young Carers. The afternoon and evening was filled with spoken word, visual arts, film and live performances that all participants should be extremely proud of.
As well as enjoying the exhibition those in attendance were able to enjoy refreshments and speak to the team who organise the trips for the children every half-term and school holidays. For anyone who had never been introduced to the Young Carers Team they were able to find out more about the services and support that they offer at this exhibition.
This was the first Art Exhibition to be held by Lambeth Young Carers to Raise more Awareness and showcase The Life of A Young Carer, and we can only hope that this is just the beginning of many more exhibitions to come.
What Young Carers have to say
With the opportunity of working with some of the Young Carers in an Arts & Crafts activity during April half-term, I was able to ask them, What it means for them personally to be a part of Lambeth Young Carers? Their responses drove home how necessary these services are for our children and communities.
“When I attend young Carers groups, I feel like I am not alone in the sense that there are many other young Carers like me. The fact that we all get on as a family helps others as well as myself to express our caring roles in instances where we may have not done so but for the groups so it has massively changed my life for the better”.
“Since I joined young carers project I’ve been able to sign up for courses such as; first aid, spoken word, skiing, photography classes and many more. Attending these groups and activities have helped to boost my confidence and see that I can achieve so much”
“When I have a prolonged period of caring, frustration begins to creep in and affect my behaviour. It’s like your stuck somewhere and you want to escape and discover yourself but you are prevented from doing so. Being in education as well also helps because you do not do as academically well as your peers, particularly when your competing for university or jobs”
“I’ve made so many great friends at young carers and I feel safe because I know they understand me and won’t get annoyed if I have to go back home because they’re in similar positions as well”
“For this painting, I played with elements of surrealism (the presence of objects not making sense; unconscious human imagination) to uniquely display how a Young Carer handles their everyday troubles. Many don’t even realise that their lives are harder than most, and those who do will handle the burden with admirable inner strength. Even to those who are not Young Carers, dealing with negativity with a smile is relatable”. – Shannon Curry
Where to turn if you need support as a carer
If you know anyone who is a young carer or you are a young carer yourself, please don’t hesitate to reach out to an organisation near you to ask for support. Every county and area will be different in the services that they offer but these Young Carers groups are so important for children to receive the support they need, as their responsibilities can have a massive affect on not only their physical health but their mental health.
- Get in touch and find your local carers service
- Help to raise awareness – take part in a Carers fundraising event
This is a topic and cause I hold dear to my heart as I myself have been a Carer for over 13 years. Now I have the opportunity to use my voice to raise awareness and also help out in the community to give children the break they deserve which is something I am so proud of.
The Young carers in our society and also the many more who haven’t even been recognised yet are all individual Heroes in my eyes, with a cape full of many talents and the courage to conquer through the most trying times. Now collectively? Well, they’re the greatest Super Hero Squad that ever formed and a force to be reckoned with.
“We Are Young Carers”
Important Dates to Remember
- World Mental Health Awareness Day – Wednesday, 10 October 2018
- Young Carers Awareness Day – Thursday, 31 January 2019
THANKS FOR READING & FOR ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT! ❤
CHECK OUT THE AMAZING ART WORK THAT SOME OF THE YOUNG CARERS CREATED