Young carers from Harrogate will be grilling a panel of experts this evening (Thursday 28 January 2016) as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the day-to-day challenges they face looking after a loved one with an illness or disability.
The event is being organised the Carers’ Resource charity to shine a spotlight on the needs of the county’s growing numbers of young carers – some as young as five – who are supporting their parents or siblings.
Official figures suggest that there are around 20,000 young carers living across Yorkshire and The Humber, yet it is feared this is just the tip of the iceberg and the true figure could be far higher.
As many as 8 in 10 of them are missing out on childhood experiences, according to new research unveiled today to mark the UK-wide Young Carers’ Awareness Day.
Playing out with friends, going on trips and to the cinema are some of the things that most young people look forward to, but for many young carers their reality is cleaning, shopping and cooking instead.
As part of the initiative, an audience of young carers aged between 5 and 17 will be quizzing a panel of local politicians and decision makers in Harrogate to promote greater understanding of their needs among influential people so they can live a full life just like their friends.
Representatives of the Carers’ Resource, which is marking its 20th anniversary of providing a lifeline to young carers, will also be present to share their expertise on subjects ranging from careers information to benefits and finance advice.
The day of action for young carers aims to help schools, support services, friends, family members and health professionals to identify young carers – to make sure they are getting the support they desperately need and deserve.
Chris Whiley, director of the Carers’ Resource, which has a network of offices in Harrogate, Ripon, Skipton and Bradford, said:
Their caring role never stops – whether they are at home or at school – and neither does the burden of worry that they shoulder.
Today provides a perfect opportunity for us to reach out into the community and demystify who young carers are, what invaluable work they have to do – and what they are missing out on in childhood as a result.
By increasing public awareness of the plight of these ‘hidden heroes’ in our community, we hope more children and young people with caring responsibilities will be more easily identified and helped, along with their families, and get in touch with us.
The panel includes North Yorkshire County Councillor, David Simister; Julie Seaton, from transition and welfare support, Harrogate College; Jenny Sengal, careers advisor at the Carers’ Resource; and Catherine Thompson, case worker, case worker at the Carers’ Resource.