Chipping Sodbury School supports young carers
SCHOOLS are being encouraged to work with a charity to help support children who have to juggle their academic work with caring for relatives.
Bristol-based charity Carers Support Centre, which helps young carers across South Gloucestershire, is raising awareness ahead of National Young Carers Awareness Day January 30.
Among the local schools which has already joined the charity's Young Carers in Schools programme is Chipping Sodbury School, which organises a lunch club for young carers.
Carers Support Centre young carers manager Kama McKenzie said: "Did you know that many school children take on huge caring responsibilities? Young carers are just kids, yet they care for someone at home who could not do without their help. The average age of a young carer is just 13 years old.
“On average young carers will miss a day of school each month as a result of their caring role, so the steps schools take to identify and support them can have a huge impact on their learning, wellbeing and life chances.”
The Government classifies young carers as ‘children in need’. They can be isolated and lonely, and often suffer from depression and anxiety, as well as lack of confidence and low self-esteem.
Kama said: "Young carers struggle to keep up with their schoolwork, are often bullied at school, and have significantly lower educational attainment than other children.
"A local authority survey found that young carers were 70% more likely than other pupils to report feeling ‘generally unhappy’ at school. Carers Support Centre also found that 75% of young carers have been absent from school due to the physical and mental impact of their caring responsibilities."
Carers Support Centre helps schools by providing training for staff, governors and pupils. Schools can then set up support groups, homework clubs and drop-in sessions for young carers, to give pupils confidence that staff understand their home situation and can give them the support they need.
Young Carers in Schools is a national programme promoted by Children’s Society and Carers Trust, and hundreds of schools across England are part of it, including 17 of the 120 primary and secondary schools in South Gloucestershire.
Carers Support Centre is calling on people to help by finding out if their local school is part of the Young Carers in Schools programme and asking those who are not to get in touch with Carers Support Centre.
More details about the charity and its work can be found at carerssupportcentre.org.uk.