Barnardo’s Lancashire Young Carers: the invaluable support service changing thousands of children’s lives across the North West
According to the latest figures, there may be as many as 800,000 young carers in the UK, meaning that almost a million children the length and breadth of the country provide regular, ongoing care and emotional support to a family member.
These family members can be physically or mentally ill, disabled, or grappling with substance-misuse issues, causing a significant knock-on effect to their loved ones tasked with caring for them despite they themselves being so young.
Working to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children, the charity Barnardo’s helps thousands of families to build a better future each year, including those who shoulder the responsibility of being a young carer on top of the trevails of education and/or work.
Last year, Barnardo’s supported more than 382,000 children, young people, parents, and carers through more than 791 services and partnerships across the UK. One of these services is Lancashire Young Carers, which helps the county’s young carers.
“Through our work with young carers we understand the challenges they face juggling school and home lives with their caring responsibilities,” says Hayley Ranicar from Barnardo’s Lancashire Young Carers. “Being a young carer can feel isolating at times and knowing that they have someone in school they can turn to who understands will be really beneficial.
“Young carers may be late for class or need access to a phone so they can call home and it is these types of situations where we hope the resources will help teaching staff to acknowledge their unique situations,” adds Hayley. “We want to avoid young carers having to explain their story multiple times to different teachers and to feel their circumstances are understood.”
Funded by Lancashire County Council (LCC) and the East Lancs Clinical Commissioning Group, the Lancashire Young Carers initiative recently saw schools and colleges across the North West given new resources to help them identify young carers, including a checklist highlighting emotional and practical support needs and a suggested policy for young carers.
Working to ensure that young carers in education will know who their young carers lead is in their school/college and what support is available to them, the initiative has been met with praise, with one young carer saying they thought the resources ‘are a good idea as not all teachers are aware of students who are young carers.’
"There are many young carers in Lancashire going above and beyond to support their loved ones alongside school or college commitments,” says Councillor Cosima Towneley, cabinet member for children and families at LCC. “This is an enormous undertaking and it is so important that they themselves feel supported.
“Often the smaller, practical things make all the difference: for instance, acknowledging that a young carer may benefit from extra time to complete homework or recognising the emotional distress they may be feeling as a result of their caring duties,” adds Cllr Towneley. "Lancashire County Council is proud to help fund this vital initiative to ensure young carers feel the support and care they provide to their loved ones is available to them, too."