“We have to help young people who are going through their early life looking after a loved one. A lot of young kids have no choice.”
CANW’s Young Carers service provides help and support to young people aged between 8 and 25 who are carrying the care burden at home. They may be looking after parents or siblings, helping them cope with illness, mental health issues, or even substance abuse problems.
We make sure that the child is looked after from all angles – that they can cope at home, that they can cope at school, that they feel supported. We are their advocate, their defender, their comfort. We are their voice when they need it. We give them 1 to 1 support, access to a network of other carers so they know they are not alone and give them someone they can talk to. We give them hope. Our team forms a bridge between school and home and works towards coming up with ways of supporting the young person by providing:
- Fortnightly ‘chill out’ nights
- Advocacy on behalf of the young carer
- Dedicated Young Carers counsellor
- Peer Mentors for extra support
- Young Carers online community
- Self-esteem and confidence workshops and other training opportunities
- Weekend residential respite breaks
‘School can suffer when a young person is a carer too.’
Being a Young Carer can put a massive burden on young shoulders. School work and attendance is often poor and schools don’t always understand why. They don’t have the full picture. And even when the child is in school they can be so worried sick about a parent they break down in class.
The emotional support the child is offering can outweigh the physical stuff like making the meals or other household chores.
Our team forms a bridge between work and home, informing schools of the situation and often trying to come up with ways of supporting the carer.
With older carers we help them gain college places when their school track record may be poor. We ensure the colleges understand the issues the carer has faced and how they can be helped.
“We try to break the cycle. A lot of young careers see no future beyond caring. They have no vision of what they might do when they leave school. They feel like they don’t have any options. Even going into further education is ruled out because they don’t feel like that can go off and do things. We try to help them see a different horizon.”
‘You are not alone’
Every week CANW hosts a group night where the carers get together. It gives them a break in a safe environment. But they also realise they are not on their own. They value that, value the fact they have someone in a similar situation to themselves.
‘We’ll be your voice’
We attend meetings on behalf of our young carers, sometimes with Children’s Services, sometimes with schools. CANW acts as an advocate, giving young carers a voice and speaking up when they feel they can’t.
If you would like more information contact 01254 692709
‘You’re so stupid you cant even raise your kids properly!’
They were a very vulnerable family. The mother had learning difficulties and was being emotionally abused by her brother. He’d shout nasty things at her, telling her she was a bad mother – she was struggling to cope. The youngest daughter was only 11 but she was left to do everything. Pay the bills, sort the meals, make appointments. Her school attendance was atrocious, her clothes shabby and her mum was living in fear of her brother. It was all too much for an 11-year-old .
CANW built a strong relationship with the family, becoming a link to the girl’s school. Getting her timetable changed meant she could do some chores before she got to school and, over time, her attendance improved. Her mother received a care package and her older sister was given support too.
We helped them turn things around – their issues with budgeting, housing and education. Without Young Carers who knows what might have happened.
Young carers doesn’t look after the individual child, it looks at the family’s circumstances and how we can help to improve it – so life can be better for everybody.
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