Norfolk’s young carers event highlights support needed across county

Members of the Norfolk Young Carers Forum with staff and trustees from Carers Trust Cambridgeshire,

Members of the Norfolk Young Carers Forum with staff and trustees from Carers Trust Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Norfolk; Stuart Dark, chairman of Norfolk County Council children’s services committee (back row, far right); Sue Hobbs, strategy and commissioning manager, Young Carers and Families, Norfolk County Council (back row, fourth from right); and Lauren Sparrow, young carers lead at Wymondham High Academy (front row, third from right). Photo: NYCF - Credit: Archant

They forego football practice, sacrifice schoolwork, and shoulder responsibilities far beyond their years.

They need our support.

This was the message of an event hosted by the Norfolk Young Carers Forum (NYCF) in Dereham, where young people from across our county gathered to make their voices heard.

The group, aged from five to 25 years old, were joined by health, education, police, council and voluntary professionals in calling for better understanding of the challenges they face.

The event, celebrating Young Carers Awareness Day and the #CareForMeToo campaign, was held on Thursday, January 31, at Dereham Town FC.

The 218 responses to the NYCF survey, 'Getting Our Voices Heard 2018', were revealed at the event:

• 51pc of respondents said no one at their school, college or work knew they were a carer;

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• 49pc said school, college or work did know but only 36 per cent felt they received support;

• 25pc of young carers reported being bullied in school;

• And 35pc felt it had impacted their attendance to some degree.

The results will be used to raise awareness about the support needed by Norfolk's young carers.

Kosy-Lee, a carer for his brother, said: 'It was a very good evening as it helped to raise awareness of young carers' mental health.'

The 12-year-old NYCF member added: 'I believe all schools in Norfolk should have young carers awareness - hopefully the survey results will help this happen.'

The event also saw Wymondham High Academy become the sixth Norfolk school to receive the Young Carer Friendly Tick Award.

Lauren Sparrow, young carers lead, said: 'I feel extremely proud to be receiving this award on behalf of Wymondham High Academy, as it feels like a year of hard work on behalf of dedicated staff members and young carers.

'It's great to get recognition for the support we are putting in place and it will help us continue to raise awareness in school. I hope it encourages other schools.'

And Andy McGowan, Carers Trust operations manager, said: 'It is vital to highlight what education, health and statutory bodies can do to support young carers in school, work or in our health service.

'With an estimated one in five secondary school children caring for someone - almost 20,000 young people and children in Norfolk - this issue is not going away.'