Ben Howlett, the Member of Parliament for Bath, has recognised the work of young carers in Bath as the nation marks Young Adult Carers Awareness Day.
Young Carers Awareness Day has been established to recognise and reach out to the 700,000 young people who are caring for a family member or friends, often with little or no support.
Young carers are children and young people under 18 years old who provide unpaid care to a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or misuses substances.
Many young carers are as young as five or six years old and most care for a parent or other close family member, day in, day out. 13,000 young carers care for over 50 hours a week, the equivalent of seven days full work.
Unfortunately, the needs of young carers often go unrecognised which makes it very difficult for them to focus on their school work and enjoy the usual social activities of a young person.
Young Carers Awareness Day has been set up to raise awareness of these issues and to recognise the work that young carers are doing daily.
It will also help organisations who may come into contact with young carers to offer them greater support.
Speaking about Young Carers Awareness Day, Ben said: “Today is a very important day and it’s a chance to do two things.
“Firstly, to say a sincere and heartfelt thank you to the thousands of young carers who give up so much time and energy to support their friends or family.
“But, it’s yet another reminder of the urgent need to continue improving and developing the support services available to young carers, a group that has too often been forgotten or marginalised.
“I hope that here in Bath we can continue to do everything we can to identify, contact, and offer support to young carers as well as helping carers who have not yet been identified to come forward and get the support they need and deserve.”
Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive of Carers Trust, said “We know young carers miss on average 48 school days – that’s nearly 10 weeks of school a year – due to their caring role.
“Those aged between 16 and 18 years are twice as likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET).
“We must change this and make sure they all get the support they need so they can thrive and enjoy their childhoods like any other young person.
“On Young Carers Awareness Day, we want to reach isolated young carers up and down the UK, who desperately need our help.”
Carers Trust helps almost 30,000 young carers and young adult carers (up to the age of 24) to cope with their caring role through specialised services and centres across the UK.
B&NES Carers’ Centre Young Carers Officer, Steve Newman said: “We need to raise awareness of young carers in our community, to ensure they know their rights and understand what support is available.
“Young carers can be isolated, have trouble making friends, or difficulties balancing school, sleep, worries and social life with their caring role which is why the services we offer are so vital.
“The young people we work with are really inspiring in the amount that they manage at such a young age.”
The Carers’ Centre marked national Young Carers Awareness Day by visiting Bath College with information and advice for students and staff about being a young carer and how best to support them.