Charity in call for more respite support for young carers during holidays

A charity is calling for greater access to respite support after it emerged that 72% of Britain’s 700,000 young carers feel lonely and isolated during the summer holidays.

Research by the Action for Children and Carers Trust found that 47% of those under 18 acting as carers spend more than four hours each during the holidays looking after relatives with disabilities, illness or mental health problems.

Typical tasks include cooking, housework, shopping or physical care such as helping someone out of bed or helping someone wash or dress, and are sometimes carried out by children as young as five.

A poll of 270 young carers found one in five had never been on holiday with their family and 68% feel stressed or worried during the holidays.

A further 57% worry about having to tell school friends what they did in the summer break when they go back to school.

One teenager helped by the trust said she “dreads” the extra hours of work she has to during the holidays.

Fourteen-year-old Jess Siagian from Carlyon Bay in Cornwall helps her mother care for her severely disabled brother, 13-year-old Jacob.

She said: “Jacob has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and is registered blind, so we need to be with him all the time.

“My mum and I take it in turns caring for him and we have to do everything including getting him out of bed in the morning, giving him a bath and dressing him.

“I dread the extra hours I have to do in the summer holidays as it can get very boring.

“It’s really hard for us go out as a family, so we end up staying at home a lot.

“Even if I just need a lift to go and see my friends, we have to get Jacob into the car.

“I spend most nights face-timing with friends to stay in contact rather than meeting up.”

Carol Iddon, Action for Children’s managing director of children’s services, said: “The summer holidays can be heart-breaking for young carers who are often isolated and trapped at home, while their friends are having fun in the sunshine, playing sports or enjoying adventures abroad.

“We see first-hand the awful impact of loneliness and stress on young carers, who dedicate their lives to helping their loved ones.

“These children are often desperate for a break from their duties and to have a bit of fun in their holidays, that’s why young carer respite services are such a lifeline for them.”

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Councils across the country work hard to make sure young carers are able to access the support they need, however with children’s services facing a £3 billion funding gap by 2025 and enormous challenges in the adult social care sector too, this is getting increasingly difficult.

“As our adult social care green paper launched this week highlights, unpaid carers of all ages need to be supported so that they can enjoy their lives in the way that they want to.

“We need a nationwide public debate about the future of care for all adults and it is important the voice of young carers is heard in that.”

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