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Young carer opens up to her peers

29 January 2020

Young Carers

Skye (12) with teaching assistant, Alice Veitch, and Ciaran Doherty

A young carer is to host an assembly at her school to raise awareness among her classmates and teachers of the daily challenges she and other young carers face.

JCG pupil Skye (12) along with My Time for Young Carers ("My Time"), a Jersey Youth Service project, will hold the assembly on Friday 31 January, the day after National Youth Carers Awareness Day.

A young carer is a person under the age of 18 who helps to look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill or disabled. In the UK, one in five secondary students have caring responsibilities. It is believed that Jersey has a similar proportion of young carers to the UK.

The "Count Me In!" campaign by the charity Carers Trust calls on education providers to do more to proactively identify young carers and to ensure that they receive the recognition and support they deserve. To raise awareness in Jersey, My Time launched several initiatives last year including setting up support groups in island secondary schools for young carers, enabling them to meet up to discuss any challenges they face, speak with other young people in similar situations, receive support and come up with support mechanisms for young carers in their school.

My Time has also worked with schools to appoint young carer leads - staff who act as a point of contact for pupils if they are having problems due to their caring responsibilities - in six secondary schools. The service runs a programme of assemblies and awareness sessions in secondary schools to highlight the issues surrounding being a young carer and the support options available. Last year, My Time delivered assemblies to 783 students in Year 7.

Skye, a Year 8 pupil, said: "The reason why I wanted to do the assembly is to help other young carers so they know about support that is available.

"I am a young carer because two of my brothers have autism and one has this along with ADHD. As well as this, my parents also have health conditions that affect them. Therefore, I have to help out more at home with the housework and looking after my younger siblings."

The funding for the initiatives is a partnership between Government of Jersey, Jersey Support Youth Charitable Trust and the LV Care Group.

Youth Worker, Ciaran Doherty, said: "The young carers groups in schools offer peer support which help young carers understand that they are not alone. Part of it is around the voice of young carers and letting them come up with solutions to the challenges they face.

"The young carer leads are members of staff that pupils can turn to with any issues they are facing. Young carers are more likely to be late for school or forget equipment needed for lessons due to their caring responsibilities so these staff can offer support effectively and discretely."

Education Minister Senator Tracey Vallois, who has responsibility for Jersey Youth Service, said: "It is important that we do all that we can to support young carers, who do such valuable work. We need to make sure that they have the same opportunity as every other young person to achieve across the board – whether that is giving young carers respite and time to socialise or education support so that they can get the grades that they are capable of."

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