Key facts on the needs of young carers

There are nearly 600 known young carers in Merton, with the actual number likely to be a good deal higher.

Young carers are an often overlooked and vulnerable group of young people with a great variety of needs and circumstances. Young carers take on responsibilities more usually associated with an adult which may be inappropriate – responsibilities in caring for parents, siblings and others, who could have disabilities, mental ill health, drug or alcohol dependency or a whole range of other issues. This can affect the young people’s ability to simply be children, enjoy their childhood and grow up with the same opportunities as their peers. They can be subject to stigmatisation or bullying and may significantly underachieve at school.

Young carers are concerned about their own health, especially their emotional wellbeing. Their physical health can suffer often because of tiredness or poor diet. They can have limited time for active pursuits and exercise and can be exposed to inappropriate levels of caring. The Merton Young Carers Strategy and action plan 2013-16 highlight the priorities for young carers and aim to address these in order that [commissioners] can make a significant difference to the quality of young carers’ lives.

Key commissioning Implications

  • Effective whole family approaches to assessment are recognised as essential to improving support for adults and young carers alike.
  • There is a need to assess the implications of the Children and Families Bill and Care Bill for young carers, including proposals for a legislative framework for local authorities to consider the needs of the whole family, deliver coordinated packages of support, and protect children and young people from excessive and inappropriate caring roles.1

References

1.^ Department for Education (DfE) (2013). Ministerial Statement October 2013: Children and Families Bill – Young Carers. DfE. www.gov.uk