A network created for carers under the age of 18 will launch this month, and hopes to offer children caring for others much-needed support.

Young carers are sometimes defined as children and young persons under 18 who provide or intend to provide care, assistance or support to another family member. Young carers have their own set of specific rights which are supposed to ensure they receive effective support, and advice.

The Young Carers Alliance has been set up by charity Caring Together in collaboration with a coalition of organisations and individuals, and will amplify the voices of child carers through its work.

The alliance says it will improve outcomes for all young carers and their families, share best practice policies and support services for organisations working with young carers, and make sure that children are heard in the process.

Research suggests that there are at least 166,000 young carers in England alone, while some research estimates the actual figure is closer to 800,000. Caring for someone else as a child is not an ideal situation for children to find themselves in, and can result in long-lasting physical and psychological ill-health.

A survey in 2018 found that half of young carers aged between 5 and 10 regularly suffer from a broken night’s sleep in order to look after unwell family members. Additional research has suggested that at least 25% of young carers have needs of their own such as a disability, and 38% of young carers report having a mental health condition. Young carers are also twice as likely to report a mental health condition compared to their peers.

Caring Together will be launching the alliance at an online conference on Tuesday, March 15, and will include talks by young carers representing the Young Carers National Voice Network, and Professor Saul Becker, the Andrew and Virginia Rudd Professor of Social Care Research & Education Practice at the University of Cambridge.

Professor Becker is the world’s leading authority on young carers.

Organisers for the event say that it is open to “anyone who has an interest in improving the identification, assessment and support of young carers and young adult carers.”

If you are a young carer and want to attend, or know someone who is a young carer and would like to attend on their behalf, let us know and we will contact the event’s organisers. You can also email the organisers direct at youngcarersalliance@caringtogether.org

The launch event will:

  • Hear about some of the latest issues facing young carers and young adult carers, both in practice and in research.
  • Hear from young carers themselves about what they have been doing to help young and young adult carers stay connected, access the services they need and reduce their isolation.
  • Find out more about the Young Carers Alliance and how you can get involved.

The Eventbrite link for the conference can be accessed here.

Image courtesy of the Carers Trust