The invaluable role of young carers was celebrated in Hounslow on Carers Rights Day. The campaign - marked last Thursday, 26 November - aims to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the borough. The campaign also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
Life in lockdown is challenging for most people, but it is particularly hard for young carers, who have the responsibility of caring for a family member. Manjila, 17, has been caring for her sister nearly all of her life. A typical day for Manjila, who lives in the borough, involves getting up at 5am to study.
Once her sister wakes up, around 7am, she prepares breakfast, helps her get dressed and take her medicine. They draw together, which her sister loves, and they name the colours they are using. The campaign also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
She said: “Caring for my sister is all I have really known. Both her and I have an amazing relationship and facing the challenges that her health condition brings has made us strong and resilient. I find it really rewarding to help her have a better quality of life. It’s hard for people to understand what being a carer is like, especially having to explain to newfound friends. Sometimes I have to drop everything at short notice to help my sister.
“The Trust provides a range of activities and trips where I can make friends with people who understand my situation and have someone to talk to which helps me keep everything balanced.”
Cllr Candice Atterton, Hounslow Council Cabinet Member for Adults, Social Care and Health, said: “We know there are many unpaid carers who struggle along without support. With as many children and young people taking on an unpaid caring role, it is important we recognise and value the crucial support they provide. We want carers to know where they can go to access practical and financial help.”
Pete Shears, Head of Intervention at Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, added: “At the Trust, we have specialist staff working with the young carers. Kathryn, our Young Carers Coordinator, has experience as a young carer herself, which is invaluable in building trusted relationships with the young people. Knowing that they have someone to talk to, with lived experience and who understands their situation, is so important”.
A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, mental or physical illness, substance misuse issue, or who needs extra help as they grow older. If you are a young carer – or you know someone who is – please email [email protected] and find out how the Trust can support you.