Action for Carers Surrey
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Health survey will take the pulse of young carers in Surrey

Young carers are being urged to take part in a survey launched today by NHS Surrey in partnership with Surrey Young Carers, which seeks to identify how caring for family members and friends impacts on their health.

Young carers are being urged to take part in a survey launched today by NHS Surrey in partnership with Surrey Young Carers, which seeks to identify how caring for family members and friends impacts on their health.

In Surrey there are currently an estimated 12,000 young carers - children and young people under 18 years who give practical, physical or emotional care to a parent, sibling, another family member or a friend with a disability or long - term illness.

Many young carers experience their own health problems as a result of their caring responsibilities.

Becky* has been a carer since the age of four, when her motherfirst became ill with physical and mental health problems.  Now 18, Becky left school at 13 in order to care full time for her mum and keep house for her father and young sister and has never taken any formal qualifications.  She says:

“Being a young carer can affect your health. For example, caring for my depressed mum can be emotionally and mentally draining and can often leave me down.

“I feel I have to be the strong one and make everyone else happy again but really I can’t cope. It gets so bad that it can result in me self- harming which gives relief from the pain in my heart. When it fails to work I break down. I won’t stop crying for about a week. I don’t do anything and life becomes dysfunctional.

“I haven’t had professional help as its not there when I need it most. But if I had counselling or something like that during the bad times I would be able to bring my family’s spirits back up again.”

Debbie Hustings, Surrey NHS Partnership Manager for Carers, said: “Many young carers may experience problems with their physical and mental health due to their caring role. Responses from the survey will help improve our understanding of how caring impacts on the health of young carers. We will also use the feedback to make recommendations to commissioners of young carers’ services here in Surrey so we can ensure young carers are getting the help and support they need.”

Geoff Parks, Deputy Manager of Surrey Young Carers added, “We know that some young people can become ill themselves as a direct result of their caring, effecting their wellbeing and sometimes physically as well. What we don’t know is the extent of the problem. Many young carers choose not to come forward for help and it means that the impact goes unrecognised. By making this survey confidential we hope it will encourage more young carers to take part.”

The survey will be available online at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NVJJBNGuntil the end of October and takes just a few minutes to complete. Those who take part will not be asked to give their names or other personal details but parental consent is required for those under the age of 16 years.Help with completing the survey is available from Surrey Young Carers on 01483 568 269.

A report on the findings will be published in December 2012 and available to view onlineat www.surrey-youngcarers.org.ukand www.carersnet.org.uk

 *To protect her identity, Becky is not this young carer’s real name

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