Young carers across Southend-on-Sea are now able to have socially distanced personal catch-ups with youth workers after having received virtual support throughout the lockdown.
A young carer is someone under the age of 18 who helps look after a family member who is disabled, physically or mentally ill or has a substance misuse problem. Caring can involve physical or emotional care, or taking responsibility for someone’s safety or wellbeing, and the level of responsibility assumed by a young carer is often inappropriate to their age. For example, they often carry the burden of running a house at a level beyond simply helping out by doing chores at home.
When Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s young carer’s worker and youth work team become aware of a young carer, they carry out assessments to work out the level of support needed. Before Coronavirus this could include social meet-ups, trips and fun activities as a way of supporting these young people.
During lockdown the team has worked hard to adapt and remain connected to our young carers. Now during Carers Week (8-14 June 2020) we are highlighting the work that has been taking place.
Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and education, said: “Whilst most of the time they are happy to care for their family and help, they also need time for themselves where they can act their age and forget about their responsibilities for a time. Getting together with other young carers to have fun and relax is a huge escape for young carers, so it was vitally important we kept up contact and stayed connected.”
During the lockdown, the team has made weekly phone calls to each family to offer support. For some it has been vital to help stay connected, especially if the family has had to shield due to long term medical conditions.
They have been provided with themed activity packs every two weeks, which contain important information such as contact details, highlighting online support, plus paper activities such as colouring, puzzles, crafts and word searches. Themes have included Easter, friendship, kindness, superheroes and family.
There is also a dedicated Facebook page where the team can post information and the young carers and their families can also interact and share ideas, or just vent about their frustrations and the extra complications created by the pandemic.
Cllr Jones adds: “Like everyone, the lockdown has posed challenges and created frustration. Our priority is to make sure our young carers have a safe and appropriate place to release those feelings and that they feel supported to do so.
“I am in such admiration of the maturity and loyalty of our young carers as they take on adult responsibility, sometimes from such a young age, and we need to do everything we can to support them.
“Since restrictions have begun to ease, our team have started to meet families in parks for a social distanced catch-ups. It gives the young carers a chance to play sports, talk and just know they are not alone.”
If you are a young carer, or know of a family who need support, and would like more information please email us.
For trusted information about Coronavirus, please visit our Coronavirus information pages.