A children’s charity says young carers returning to school this week are more likely to have fallen behind in their studies than some of their peers, after juggling home schooling with caring over multiple lockdowns. Spurgeons believes that young carers need more recognition and support, especially in schools during this difficult period. It is calling on young carers and their families to speak out during the upcoming Young Carers Action Day on 16th March 2021, highlighting the need for greater consistency across the country for school support.
The charity is advocating for young people in school to get the support they need and is actively educating schools on the challenges they face. Statistics1 reveal that young carers are more likely to underachieve in exams and are less likely to go on to further education. Some young carers become adult carers for parents without having a life of their own. In addition, the pandemic has increased the challenges and risks these young carers face, as they have had to balance remote school learning often with increased caring responsibilities.
Spurgeons is marking Young Carers Action Day with a Wear Your Hair to Show You Care campaign. Spurgeons staff, young carers and their families are going to take part and share pictures on social media and are encouraging the public to get involved. Supporters can also choose to sign-up for a virtual walk from Birmingham to Wolverhampton, with participants encouraged to fundraise by walking the 18 miles between 16th of March and 16th of April 2021.
Angie Jones, Children’s Services Lead for Spurgeons Young Carers programme says,
“While awareness of young carers is slowly increasing, there is still a long way to go to get to a point where all young carers get the recognition and support they need. There are vast inconsistencies in school support across the UK; we are still hearing the line, we haven’t got young carers in our school, although, thankfully, not as often as we did a few years ago. Young carers are amazing, they grow up putting other people’s needs first and for some the opportunities ahead of them are limited because of this.”
Many young carers miss out on learning and reaching their full potential and eventually fall behand at school. During lockdown, for younger children, their parents may not be well enough to support them with home schooling, while those who care for a sibling can have their learning disrupted. For these reasons — and an increase in anxiety and depression experienced over lockdown2 — a lot of young carers have missed out on learning and fallen behind in their schooling.
“We have seen an increase in anxiety and depression amongst a lot of our young people, as they have felt increasingly isolated during the past three lockdowns.
“Going back to school over the next few weeks will likely bring mixed feelings — on the one hand they will be pleased to be back, but at the same time concerned that they can still get Covid-19 and bring it back to vulnerable family members. We’re particularly concerned for the young people in exam years who have missed out on crucial lessons, and the risk of anxiety seeping in about what happens next.”
Spurgeons’ Young Carer services exist to give young people respite from their caring role, something which has been difficult to achieve over three lockdowns. Having a young carers service and individual support helps build resilience and encourages young people to realise that they are important in their own right.
Since the pandemic began, Spurgeons has increased contact with families and young people, making regular calls to families needing additional support. During the most recent lockdown, the Young Carers team has offered weekly zoom groups to provide some fun and a break from online learning. Treat boxes, activity packs and increased one-on-one support also provide a much-needed boost.
“Although the winter and last lockdown has been very difficult for a lot of young carers, we know young people are resilient. There is hope, as they look forward to spring and the easing of restrictions. Young carers as a group often get overlooked, which is why we are encouraging them and their families to speak out. Young Carers Action Day is a brilliant way to give young carers a voice and we would encourage everyone to get behind these exceptional young people and take part in this special day.”
To learn how you can help Spurgeons support young carers and get involved in the Young Carers Action Day activities, go to www.spurgeons.org/ycad/ or visit @SpurgeonsUK on social media.