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The Challenge of Being a Young Carer

Taking care of a family member or friend or needing that sort of support yourself is extremely tough at times, especially when you’re a young person facing the other challenges that people your age encounter.

To make things more complicated, the law has changed recently in relation to the support that carers and people who need regular care can ask for.

A national expert on the rights of carers and people living with disabilities visited Grimsby recently to talk to young people in this position.Leading human rights solicitor and professor of law Luke Clements was the Special Adviser to the Parliamentary Committee that scrutinised the draft Bill that resulted in the Care Act 2014.

Luke led a question and answer session about the Care Act that was attended by 40 local carers, young people and their families and around 30 care professionals.

Eighteen year old local carer Autumn Beard attended the event and said: “What was so great about it was that it was informal and Luke spoke to us all equally and answered all of our questions, including mine about young carers.”

Autumn has been caring for family members since she was ten years old. Like many young people in her position, she had little choice in the matter.

“We were in crisis as a family and young carers came around to my home to assess me,” she explains. “My step dad has complex mental health issues, my sister has a learning age of 5-9 years old, she is 15, and my dad also has a lot problems which leave him very vulnerable. I try my best to care for these family members 24/7 and at weekends.”

Being a carer has a huge impact on young people and Autumn believes the new Care Act is a very positive step forward.

“Caring is about putting someone else first instead of yourself which means it a huge effect on young people because of stress and never having a break from it. If the Care Act had been around when I was growing up, I would have access to more services and I would be considered as a priority and as an equal, compared to being placed at the bottom of every list because that is how I feel the support has been for me in the past,” says Autumn.

Knowing where to get advice and support isn’t easy and Autumn believes there are many more young people out there who carry out similar roles who don’t know where to turn.

“My mum helps me find out a lot of information before anyone else knows which is good. I am a carer under Navigo and the Carers Support Service but I still sometimes struggle to find out information. There are lots of young people who don’t access support. I know of many young people who do not know where to go to find help and information or they know of the information but cannot leave their family due to their caring role,” she explains.

“Schools should do more for young carers as most of the time we are invisible and are desperate for someone to talk to.”

Although it can be difficult and stressful at times, caring can also be a positive experience for young people and it has set Autumn on a career path to nursing. Increased support means she has been able to have a series of university interviews to pursue this. “My interview at Sheffield Hallam was mainly based on my caring role which I strongly believe got me a conditional offer there. I also have a conditional offer at Hull,” she adds.

If you’re a young person caring for someone else, you have the right to be assessed for support to help you carry out your role and stay healthy yourself. To find out more visit http://www.carerssupportcentre.com/north-east-lincolnshire/young-carers/.

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