30 January 2019
A pilot scheme to create a new card for young carers is being developed in a bid to provide extra support and tackle some of the difficulties that young carers say that they have experienced.
The news has been announced as part of National Youth Carers Awareness Day, this Thursday 31 January. A young carer is someone under 18 who helps look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol.
The project ‘My Time' for young carers was established by the Jersey Youth Service in July 2017 as part of funds set aside from the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.
Mark Capern, Principal Youth Officer said: “There was very limited support on offer for young carers in Jersey with many young carers hidden from services who were not aware of those children and young people caring for another person.
"When the opportunity and resource became available we wanted to provide young carers with a space to meet like-minded young people, provide appropriate support and more importantly give them space to play, have fun, and make new friends. It also enabled us to listen to children and young people and learn about some of the issues they face. We developed ‘My Time’ to meet and address these issues.”
The Jersey Youth Service and the Children’s Commissioner have been working with children and young carers from Le Rocquier School to further develop the support available. Last year, the Children’s Commissioner’s Consultation results showed that 59% of adults and professionals felt that young carers should be a priority for the work of the commissioner.
The idea for a Young Carer’s Card has been developed to help young carers discretely tell their teachers of any situation, such as being late to school or not having completed homework, without having to explain their personal situation in front of anyone else.
Youth Worker, Ciaran Doherty, who has been leading on this project said: “It’s been a great achievement to be able to directly respond to the results from the Children’s Commissioner’s survey. It has been an invaluable process to work alongside the young people and hear their ideas for how we as a community can improve how we support them. And if we can encourage local businesses to sign up to the scheme, it could enable young people to have greater access to activities and services, therefore improving their overall wellbeing.”
Carers are hoping that the card will also allow them potential benefits from supporting partners such as discounted rates with local businesses, which could help address some of the pressures youth carers encounter such as:
• social isolation
• poor academic achievement
• health problems
• emotional difficulties
• child to adult transitioning
Children’s Commissioner, Deborah McMillan, said: “Pupils have told me that sometimes they find it difficult to explain to teachers that they are a Young Carer. Pupils at Le Rocquier School have come up with this innovative idea and they are being supported by the Youth Service and myself to develop and pilot the card. I am pleased to be able to support the rights of Young Carers to have their voice heard.”
To improve the wellbeing and mental health of young carers, "My Time" has built up links with local organisations such as Mind Jersey, Autism Jersey, and a network of youth clubs in the Island, Youth Enquiry Service (YES) and Silkworth Lodge.