Plymouth is leading the way in providing support for young carers with almost every city school now having a designated ‘carers champion’.
The champions are taking steps to ensure all young carers are identified and receive appropriate support and it is proving so successful, other local authorities are getting in touch for advice on how to mirror the scheme.
A young carer is a person under the age of 18 who cares in some capacity for another person. They may provide care, practical help, emotional or physical support to a person who is vulnerable.
Over 700 young carers have been identified in Plymouth, and the Council has this week hosted the Plymouth Young Carers Conference, to give teachers, support workers and other professionals the opportunity to showcase work and share skills and ideas.
Councillor Jon Taylor, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Transformation said: “We are committed to delivering our pledge to recognise the great contribution that young carers make in Plymouth and to raising the profile of the support available to them.
“We are very mindful of the increasingly challenging situation that some young carers may find themselves in due to the climate of rising demand for care services and ever diminishing resources. We need to ensure that pressures on young carers don’t increase instead of decreasing in the coming years.
“As a council we want to do all we can to avoid a situation where young carers are having to fill gaps created when statutory services are cut back. We are fortunate in Plymouth to have an outstanding team of education and social work professionals supporting these very extraordinary young people and will be working together to ensure young carers receive the support they need.”
In Plymouth there are three services providing direct support for Young Carers through Time 4 U, Plymouth’s young carer offer to children and young people.
Time 4 U is supported by Hamoaze House, who offer specialist support to children dealing with substance misuse by parents or other family members. They offer one to one support and coping strategies to young people.
It is also supported by Barnardo’s, who spend time with entire families to establish how best both children and adults can be supported to ease the burden of care on the young person.
The Council’s Plymouth Young Carers is a citywide project providing youth sessions for all young carers in the city. The overall aim is to give carers a break, have opportunities to engage in positive fun activities and to feel supported.
Plymouth City Council has also appointed a Young Carers Champion for the city, Lisa Cornish, who co-ordinates group activities across the city, from bread making to pebble painting, and the conference will showcase the exciting opportunities coming up for young carers.
Speakers at the conference included a representative from The Donkey Sanctuary, where young carers will be doing therapeutic work later this year, and the National Marine Aquarium, who will be running an Ocean Squad Club for young carers. The clubs offer a chance for recreation and play, while teaching valuable life and job skills.