Lancashire County Council is backing Young Carers Awareness Day on Thursday 25 January.
This national day recognises the 700,000 children and young people under 18 years old in the UK who provide care and support to someone in their family who is ill, has a disability or misuses substances.
County Councillor Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: “We’re glad to support the Young Carers Awareness Day to raise awareness of the crucial role these young people have in their families. We want this to be a day that everyone recognises the challenges faced by young carers and gives some thought to this.
“Our most recent figures indicate that we have around 4,000 children and young people who are providing care in Lancashire. This recognition day provides us all with an opportunity to think if we know any young carers ourselves, and ensure that we offer them the support they need.
“Most young carers provide between two and 19 hours every week, but some provide as many as 50 hours each week. This can mean that they face many issues, and can be under a lot of strain because they are constantly juggling family, school and their personal life. As a result, their childhoods can be very different from those of their peers.
“We want to help schools, colleges, employers and the public to be able to assist these young people, to make sure that they are able to access the right support and are able to go on to pursue the employment that they want.”
The Lancashire Young Carers Service is run by children’s charity Barnardo’s on behalf of the county council, in partnership with the East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Jenny Ashcroft, manager for Barnardo’s Young Carers Service in Lancashire said: “Many young people with caring responsibilities may not realise they are actually carers, as it’s just something they have always done, but their roles at home can often impact quite significantly on their own lives, including their education and personal wellbeing.
“That’s why it is so important that adults and professionals who may come into contact with these young people can identify them and ensure they have access to the right support. Barnardo’s provides one-to-one help to young carers and ensures the whole family is receiving the right level of support from a range of agencies, reducing the impact of the caring responsibilities and ensuring the young person can engage in school and socialise with peers. We also support them to gain access to further education, training and work.
“Young carers are amazing young people, who give so much to help care for their loved ones. It’s crucial that they can have a childhood and their own life outside of caring and can access the same opportunities as others their age.”
The Chairman of Lancashire County Council, Terry Aldridge, will host an event at County Hall later this month to show appreciation and to recognise the important role of young carers.
A film has recently been made by young carers in Lancashire, and Fixers – the charity which gives young people a voice – to raise awareness and help teachers better understand what life is like for young carers. To take a look, visit www.fixers.org.uk/news/16577-11208/understanding-young-carers.php
To find out about the national Young Carers Awareness Day, visit www.carers.org/young-carers-awareness-day