September 17th, 2012
Surrey’s hidden army of young adult carers aged 16 to 24 years are being targeted in a new campaign from Action for Carers (Surrey) this autumn. Posters and postcards are being distributed to colleges as a way of reaching out to thousands of young people in this age group in the county who are looking after a relative or friend with a disability, physical or mental illness or addiction.
Surrey’s hidden army of young adult carers aged 16 to 24 years are being targeted in a new campaign from Action for Carers (Surrey) this autumn.
Posters and postcards are being distributed to colleges as a way of reaching out to thousands of young people in this age group in the county who are looking after a relative or friend with a disability, physical or mental illness or addiction.
In Surrey there are currently an estimated 12,000 young carers - children and young people under 18 years old – with many thousands more18-24 year olds who have significant caring responsibilities remaining unrecognised and unsupported.
The campaign follows research* commissioned by Surrey Young Carers, part of Action for Carers (Surrey), published earlier this year, which highlighted the need for greater acknowledgement and support for this age group.
Young adult carers typically juggle looking after a friend or relative while studying or working and their health, relationships, education or employment prospects can all suffer.
They include people like Rebecca**, 21, a student from Guildford, whose mother has bipolar disorder. Rebecca, an only child whose father died when she was young, chose to live at home and study locally in order to be available to support her mother, who first became ill when she was at secondary school.
“Mum’s much better now but she’s never going to be completely well and my gran who used to help out is now ill herself so it’s just me,” she said. “Being a carer does affect your self-esteem and your choices. Without the support of Surrey Young Carers I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do many things, including going to uni.”
Jane Thornton Chief Executive of Action for Carers, commented: “At a time when life should be offering them all kind of possibilities, young adult carers often find opportunities falling away. Caring can hinder or prevent them finding work, going on to college or leaving home and it can have a limiting effect on their social life too. There is help out there and for any young adult struggling to juggle caring with work, learning or simply having a life of their own then I would urge them to get in touch with us.”
Young people aged 16 and 17 who are caring can get help and information from Surrey Young Carers Tel: 01483 568269, email: email@example.com or www.surrey-youngcarers.org.uk. Those 18 and over can contact Action for Carers (Surrey) on 01483 302748, email ACS@actionforcarers.org.uk or find out more at www.actionforcarers.org.uk
* Research into Young Adult Carers aged 16-24 in Surrey. Lindsay Constable. Surrey Young Carers, Action for Carers (Surrey), 2012. http://www.surrey-youngcarers.org. uk/professionals/reports.htm
* * We have used a pseudonym to protect Rebecca’s identity.