08 June 2020
Young carers are being celebrated this week as part of a national campaign that aims to highlight the important role that carers play in our communities.
Carers Week, which runs from today until Friday, raises awareness of the challenges faced by unpaid carers and recognises the contribution they make to families and communities across the UK. The annual campaign also helps people who may not think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access support.
A young carer is someone under 18 who helps look after someone in their family, or a friend, who has a disability, mental or physical illness or who needs extra help as they grow older. Young carers often take on tasks that an adult would normally do, for example cooking and shopping, looking after younger siblings or giving medication.
Young carers in Jersey are supported by ‘My Time for young carers’, a project established by the Jersey Youth Service in July 2017 using funds set aside from the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry. My Time runs free youth club sessions, trips, activities and targeted courses for young carers, who benefit from trained staff and support from other young people in similar situations. The project offers opportunities for young carers to try new things, develop their skills and have the space and time to be young and have fun.
To mark this year’s Carers Week, young carers have asked the My Time team for a virtual party on Thursday evening with quizzes, games and party bags.
Youth worker Ciaran Doherty, who leads the My Time project, said: “A virtual party will be a chance to recognise and celebrate the role of young carers. They have asked for games and quizzes and party bags with chocolate, sweets and drinks, all of which we have organised for them.
“Young carers regularly make sacrifices to care for a loved one and provide invaluable support to that person. Young carers do not always get much time for themselves and that is why it is so important that we provide them with a safe space for respite where they can have fun, get support and meet other young people in similar situations.”
My Time works with organisations that can also support young carers, including the Youth Enquiry Service (YES), Mind Jersey, Autism Jersey, Silkworth Lodge, a network of youth clubs in the Island and Jersey Support Youth, which was set up to support the youth service in providing support to projects identified where extra funding and assistance is required to create opportunities and improve the lives of young people in the Island.
My Time, run by the Jersey Youth Service, aims to:
- help identify young carers and their needs
- ensure young carers are recognised and valued
- raise awareness to support and influence change
- increase support
- provide access to new opportunities and experiences
- refer and signpost young people to other agencies or services when required.
A young carer is someone under 18 who helps look after someone in their family, or a friend, who has a disability, mental or physical illness or who needs extra help as they grow older. Young carers often take on tasks that an adult would normally do, for example:
- cooking, housework, shopping
- dressing, washing, bathing, helping with toilet needs
- lifting, helping on stairs
- managing family budget, collecting prescriptions, giving medication
- looking after younger siblings
- emotional support, interpreting.