The hidden carers in today's society

Author/Producer Laura Brown
Published in Summer Newsletter 2008
Date Published 21 July 2008
Pages 2

Summary

Laura Brown writes about her work with young carers in Plymouth. How a short DVD they have made aims to increase understanding of the lives of young carers and how best to support them

Description

The Young Carers DVD “There 2 Care” provides an important educational resource for teachers, teacher educators and student teachers who want to come to a better understanding of the lives of Young Carers and how best to support them. The DVD is made using animated characters created by a group of Young Carers in Plymouth with The Young Carers Project based at the Zone (a stand alone young people’s service) and is introduced by Dr Roger Morgan, the Children’s Rights Director for England.

By using the medium of animation the DVD ensures that the young people’s confidentiality is retained and that their stories and advice to professionals comes clearly from their perspective – because they are the experts. Part of the DVD’s appeal is that it is in a format that is easily accessible to adults and children alike and could just as easily be shown in a work-place or lecture hall as to a school assembly.

Part of the DVD and Project’s aims are to identify more young carers living in Plymouth and to support and inform research on this issue. Young Carers are often seen as the “hidden problem” in society. National Statistics published in 2004 by the Children’s Society estimates that there are 175,000 young carers in the UK, 86% of these will be of compulsory school age. This is an astonishing two children in every class of 30, and yet three quarters of these young people have not disclosed this information to anyone in their school and the issues that they are presented with on a daily basis remain unknown.

One of the Every Child Matters outcomes relating to young carers is that educators should recognise the difficulties young people face, such as;

  • variable attendance
  • educational underachievement
  • bullying, stress and behavioural issues.

The aim of projects nationwide is to identify young carers and provide adequate support in line with a multi-agency approach. This can be difficult for teachers and student teachers working in school placements facing an ever increasing workload. Additionally, young people may be unwilling to come forward through fear of the consequences of disclosure.

This is where the DVD could provide a ‘stepping-stone’ towards increased awareness, enabling teachers and those in training to feel more confident in approaching this delicate subject with young people. As one of the young carers states in the DVD, “I was worried that if I told anyone, our family would be split up but now lots of different people help us to stay together”.

To find out more or to obtain a free copy of the DVD call The Young Carers Project at the Zone, Plymouth on 01752 206626 or e-mail enquiries@thezoneplymouth.co.uk

See the DVD at the link on the right