Local charity, Care for the Carers, have launched a new service to support young carers in East Sussex.

The young carers service is for 5–17 year olds living, attending school or caring for someone in East Sussex

The service will enable young carers to connect with one another, and access the support and information they need as well as a range of fun activities to improve their wellbeing.

A Young Carers Club will be starting in April 2021 and the charity already provides holiday activities and a counselling service, called Teen Talk, for young carers aged 12 years and above.

Statutory young carers assessments are provided by Imago East Sussex Young Carers who also offer other services to young carers in East Sussex.

A young carer is someone under 18 years of age who provides care and/or support to a family member, including siblings, or a friend, who could not manage without their help. This could be due to illness, disability or age and caring can involve physical and/or emotional support. There are an estimated 21,000 young carers in East Sussex, although the actual figure is unknown because so many young carers are hidden.

Michael is 10 years old and lives in Eastbourne. He cares for his mum who has fibromyalgia. Michael says; “I like going to the young carers service as I get to meet others who also care like me. It can be a bit lonely being a young carer and seeing other children cheers me up.”

Samuel, 9, and twins, Benjamin and Oliver, 5, live in Bexhill and care for their Mum, Nicki. Nicki, was diagnosed with Non Epileptic Attack Disorder, which means she can experience over ten seizures a day.

The boys help out around the house, know to deal with seizures and help to keep Mum smiling.

Nicki says, “Coming to the Care for the Carers Young Carers service has given them something to look forward to, and something just for them. It was especially good for them to meet other young carers.”

Jennifer Twist, CEO, Care for the Carers, says; “We are delighted to be launching this new service for young carers. Some people begin caring at a very young age, and many children and often don’t realise that they are young carers. Most young carers really want to support the person they care for, but it’s important at a young age that they aren’t doing all the same things as adult carers. If you spend a lot of your time caring for someone it can get in the way of doing well at school or spending time with friends.

“We are hugely grateful to BBC Children in Need, The Masonic Charitable Foundation, National Lottery Awards for All, UK Youth, and the Catharine House Trust without whom the project would not be possible.

“We want all young carers in East Sussex to know that they are not alone. If you are a young carer, or you know a young carer who would be interested in support from us or joining activities, please get in touch.”

The service launch coincides with Young Carers Action Day on 16th March 2021 and this year focusses on Protecting Young Carers’ Futures and making sure that all young carers get the support they need to go after their dreams. Care for the Carers are also providing support for professionals and practitioners working with children and young people to help identify, refer and help young carers. Young Adult Carers aged 16 to 25 years can access the charity’s “YAC” service.

To find out more, or to refer a young carer, contact Care for the Carers by emailing info@cftc.org.uk or calling 07874 853703. Find out more at: www.cftc.org.uk.

Care for the Carers is the Carers Centre for East Sussex and an independent charity supporting unpaid carers across the county. The charity is commissioned to provide services to carers by East Sussex County Council and the NHS.

The charity provides free practical and emotional advice to Carers and a range of services. Services include referrals to other local services, outreach support, one-to-one crisis help and guidance, coaching, training, wellbeing and support groups, activities and counselling. They strive to create carer friendly communities and peer support opportunities across Sussex.

Care for the Carers aims to do more to help carers in East Sussex through raising awareness, fundraising and volunteering. Their work ensures that no one is left to care alone. Further information is at: www.cftc.org.uk, phone 01323 738390 or email info@cftc.org.uk.

Young Carers Action Day

Young Carers Action Day takes place on 16th March 2021. An annual event led by Carers Trust, the day raises awareness and calls for action to increase support for young people with caring responsibilities.

This year’s focus is about Protecting Young Carers’ Futures, and making sure that all young and young adult carers get the support they need to go after their dreams.

A young carer is someone under 18 who helps to look after a family member or friend who is ill, disabled, has a mental health condition or misuses drugs or alcohol. Nobody knows exactly how many young carers there are in the UK because so many are hidden, however there are an estimated 800,000 young carers (Children’s Society). In East Sussex there are an estimated 21,000 young carers. Find out more here: https://carers.org/young-carers-action-day-2021/young-carers-action-day-2021

About Carers in East Sussex

Care for the Carers estimates that there are 68,229 unpaid carers in East Sussex, estimated figures for each area:

Wealden 19,081

Lewes 13,463

Rother 13,079

Eastbourne 12,408

Hastings 10,198

There are an estimated additional 34,000 carers due to the pandemic.

There are an estimated 21,000 young carers in East Sussex.

Young Carers statistics

Nobody knows exactly how many young carers there are in the UK, however the latest estimate suggests up to 800,000 (Children’s Society). In East Sussex there are an estimated 21,000 young carers.

An estimated 1 in 5 secondary school pupils are young carers.

Many young carers report positive experiences because of their caring role, including increased maturity; and development of life, care-related and social skills. But caring can also negatively impact on their wellbeing:

· young carers have significantly lower educational attainment as they miss an average of 48 school days a year (Children’s Society, 2019)

· they struggle with physical and mental wellbeing, with over 50% of young carers reporting that being a young carer had impacted on their emotional and mental health; 56% said that being a young carer made them feel anxious or worried and just under 40% said it made them feel like they could not cope (Barnardo’s, 2017)

· over 80% report missing out on what other children are doing (Carers Trust, 2019).