Carers’ Week 2020: Supporting Young Carers in Wigan and Leigh
This Carers’ Week 2020, we celebrate the dedication of carers, young and old, across the UK.
Wigan & Leigh Young Carers supports young adult carers (aged 14-24) in the borough of Wigan. They provide peer support groups and residential breaks, as well as training and engagement sessions. They aim to support those who are most isolated, and those with limited social, educational and employment opportunities.
The group place a huge emphasis on the health and mental wellbeing of their members. Naturally, Covid-19 has resulted in a massive increase in workload for young carers. Since they cannot meet physically, group leaders and staff have been using Zoom to interact with the young carers. Via Zoom, they can give 1:1 support and guidance to those who need it most. They have also delivered over 300 age related wellbeing packs – including a journal and mental health information – to their young carers.
Young carers often have significantly higher amounts of responsibility on them than other young people. Sometimes, they are misunderstood by their peers. Research shows young carers miss an average of 48 days of school because of their role. 68% have been bullied at some point, directly because of having to care for someone. Projects like Wigan & Leigh Young Carers bring together people with similar experiences, and build a network for support and simply taking a break.
With money raised through The Health Lottery, People’s Health Trust have made grants of over £3 million to directly support carers.
One member, Alice, has even shaved her head in order to raise awareness for young carers. Her mother Victoria said, “We have, as a family, benefitted from the services they offer the youngsters within our community. Given the horrific situation we are all in, our young carers are basically working 24/7 in their homes – making sure that the ones they love so dearly are cared for properly. That means cooking, cleaning, making sure there’s clean clothes, and much more.
Victoria continued, “They are essentially running a household. I can’t begin to put it into words how proud I am of [Alice].”
Another member emphasised this point stating, “I’m literally the only one keeping everything together, so I’m having good days and bad days.”
Paul Carroll, Project Manager, said, “Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown has created additional problems for our young carers/young adult carers (YCs/YACs) – going to school/college gave them respite from their caring duties at home. These have been challenging times but with the help of People’s Health Trust the Charity has been able to continue its support of our young people.”
In June and July, every Health Lottery ticket will raise more funds for health related charities and projects in the London area.