Signs that a child may be a young carer
There isn’t a clear tick list for how to spot a young carer and Romsey Young Carers has sadly found that embarrassment and fear of outside intervention in the family, can prevent the young carer and their family from seeking support. However, in every case Romsey Young Carers has had, the young carer is relieved to find that there is someone out there who wants to help.
Signs that a person may be a young carer and not coping with this role may include:
- Difficulty socialising with other children;
- Extreme tiredness;
- Lack of concentration;
- Low mood;
- Homework handed in late or left undone; or
- Non attendance or lateness to school.
Although these issues may not necessarily mean that a child is a young carer, they may suggest a child with difficulties. The first and most difficult step in helping a child in need is identifying them.
What can Romsey Young Carers offer – for schools?
In 2001 the Census identified 3,300 young carers in Hampshire. Research suggests that there will be several young carers in every school. The average age is 10 years.
Many will be late to school and unable to complete their homework on time. When at school young carers may have difficulty concentrating due to anxiety about the person they care for. In addition to academic problems, many young carers have difficulty integrating socially within the school environment, with some being teased or bullied by their peers.
In spite of these problems the majority of young carers will not be identified as such by staff in schools, partly because young carers and their families often remain silent about their caring responsibilities. This may be due to fears of the reactions of school staff and peers and the stigma surrounding some health conditions, addictions and disabilities or they are unaware that help may be available.
Tim (Romsey Young Carers' Manager) and Keren (Schools & Clubs Coordinator) are happy to work with schools in our catchment area, Romsey and Southern Test Valley, to provide:
- Staff training on identifying a young carer and their needs;
- Assemblies – providing insight into the life of a young carer for children;
- Drop-in sessions – a casual session for young carers to pop into during their lunch break.
What can Romsey Young Carers offer – for young carers?
The organisation tries to give young carers some of the childhood fun they may be missing out on. With clubs and outings Romsey Young Carers can provide a place where all the children and young people understand what it means to cope with disability and illness.
The charity's work also has a practical side and aims to give young carers the skills to cope with their family situations and with life in general, such as budgeting skills for food shopping, interacting with other young people, first aid, sporting skills and other activities and opportunities that the young carers identify. The overall aim is to help young carers to develop and achieve their full potential for their future.
Romsey Young Carers gives priority to children or young people who are:
- Shortly to be bereaved (in next 12 months) or have recently been bereaved;
- Exhibiting impaired physical/emotional development as a result of their caring responsibility;
- Exhibiting impaired physical/emotional development as a result of the impact of the illness or disability within the family situation;
- Giving a high level of support to a family member who has an illness or disability;
- Giving a high level of physical and practical/personal care;
- Children and young people who have special needs themselves and are in a caring role; and/or
- Sibling carers.
The children and young people referred to the charity are sometimes worried individuals whose trouble extends not only from home but also to their school life and life chances. They may be lacking concentration in school, having problems with other young people or become involved in anti social behaviour.
If you believe that there is a young carer in a family and you wish to refer them on to us or are simply looking for more information or advice please feel free to contact Romsey Young Carers.