Young carers do £12,000 of unpaid work every year, says Action for Children

By agency reporter
February 24, 2020

New research by Action for Children shows young carers spend an average of 25 hours a week caring for loved ones – the equivalent of over £12,000 a year on a part-time carer’s wage. For a young carer between the ages of 7-18, this would add up to over £140,000 of free work across that caring lifetime.

The charity is warning that not only do these children care for their loved ones on top of their school day, they are effectively also ‘on call’ overnight.

Carol Iddon, deputy chief executive at Action for Children, said: “Children cook, clean and care unpaid for family members with little recognition of the work they do or the proper support they need. Having regular breaks and fun activities through young carer respite services can be a lifeline for them – but services are patchy and there aren’t enough to support this hidden child workforce.

“We’re calling on the new government to make sure all young carers have access to these essential respite services. This would give these children the practical and emotional support they need to have a safe and happy childhood.”

Eleven-year-old Marissa Salter from St. Ives in Cornwall cares for her mother, Suzanna who was left with serious spinal damage and arthritis following a car accident several years ago. Suzanna also suffers with a long-term lung disease, COPD, which causes severe shortness of breath.

Marissa said: “In the mornings I have to get mum out of bed, help her put her socks on and make her coffee. I also do the washing up, help with cleaning and the laundry and cooking. And I walk down to the shops to do the shopping because Mum isn’t supposed to lift anything.

“I get upset sometimes because I go online and see all my friends are going to places that I want to go to, and they haven’t told me about it because they know I can’t go.”

Suzanna said: “She amazes me on a daily basis at how positive she can be even though I know she gets upset when she sees her friends go off to the beach or the skate park and I feel guilty as I can’t walk her down there.

“I feel guilty, as if I’m not letting her have a childhood but at least through Action for Children’s Kernow Young Carers she gets that interaction and support from the staff. We know we can call our support worker Louise anytime and Marissa has really enjoyed the trips they organise because she gets to meet other children in her situation. I honestly don’t know where we’d be without it.”

The information was compiled following a survey of 383 young carers.

* Action for Children https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/

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