I am currently taking part in Team v, which is the flagship youth social action and leadership programme of the charity vInspired. It aims to equip young people with skills to campaign for positive change in their communities across England.
I decided to join Team v as I have always enjoyed voluntary work. I became interested in campaigning but didn’t feel like I had the confidence or skills to make a difference. Team v has been an amazing experience, I have learnt so much about campaigning and it is so refreshing to meet other young people from all over the country who are also passionate about things I care about. It is really inspiring to be part of such a supportive group and to see our collective impact.
From October to December last year approximately 100 Team v Leaders raised awareness of food poverty and we managed to collect and donate 31,128 items of food to local food aid providers.
Team v Young Carers Campaign: Do You Care
Currently we are campaigning to raise awareness of young carers, the amazing work they do and the challenges they face, to signpost services and to start constructive conversations around issues and how these could be addressed. The Children’s Society are also supporting us with our campaign.
A young carer is a person, some as young as five, who provide regular and on-going care or emotional support to a family member who is disabled, physically or mentally ill, or misuses substances.
Young carers miss out on many of the things that other children and young people take for granted, from educational opportunities to spending time with friends and having time to do their homework. Some of the Team v leaders were young carers themselves and I was really moved by the stories they have shared.
According to the latest census, there are currently 166,363 young carers in England, however many remain hidden from official sight. The BBC has estimated that the true number could be closer to 700,000, which is a lot of young people who may not be receiving any support or may not even know they are a young carer. There are many reasons why a carer may remain unseen including lack of knowledge about support available and stigma attached to the illness of the relative they are caring for.
Young carers not receiving support leads to a number of significant repercussions:
- One in 12 young carers is caring for more than 15 hours per week.
- Around one in 20 misses school because of their caring responsibilities.
- Young carers are 1.5 times more likely than their peers to have a special educational need or a disability.
- Young carers have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level
- Young carers are more likely than the national average to be not in education, employment or training (NEET) between the ages of 16 and 19
We are raising awareness all over the country both locally and on a national level by: gathering messages of support for young carers, running workshops in schools, blogging and vlogging, making noise on social media (see #DoYouCare), lobbying MPs and schools to improve provision and hosting creative events during our ‘Care to Join Us? Weekend’ on 27th-28th February.
Along with Nat Hawley, another Team v leader, I have set up a Facebook page where anyone can post messages of support for young carers and young carers can their experiences. We are also keen for the page to be a useful resource and have been posting links to relevant news stories, organizations, online material and support.
If you would like to get involved you can tweet Team v, find your local Team v leader or read more about the campaign on the Team v website.
If you are a young carer or know of someone who might need support you can find help here if you are under 18 and here if you are over 18.