Meet Seb, an 18-year-old young carer, supported by Carers First, who featured on the ITV Tonight programme on Thursday 26 October at 8:30pm, to highlight how the impact of being a young carer has affected his life opportunities and what he has needed to help him thrive as a young carer. In England, there are 934,609 young carers supporting a family member with a mental health condition, disability, or addiction. Seb is just one of those young carers.
In this episode, Seb talks about his experience of being a young carer, the challenges he has faced because of it and the help he has received which has helped to turn his life around; as Ronke Phillips Pakenham investigates into the true scale of young people caring for their loved ones in the UK, asking if they get the support that they so dearly need in light of the new parliamentary report into young carers.
The ITV Tonight programme highlights that young carers are twice as likely to experience food poverty, than a child without a caring role, and that young carers are filling the gaps in our National Health Service, with young carers as young as five caring for family members up to 50 hours a week. However, despite this, many young carers continue to ‘slip through the net’ and go without the support they deserve and need to thrive as children.
When we first met Seb, he was the main carer for his father who has bipolar disorder and is a double amputee following an attempt on his own life.
Seb, who has been a carer for as long as he can remember says:
“I’ve been caring since I was a toddler. Since I could speak. It’s just the simple things like helping with day-to-day tasks, helping with, and making sure they do take their medication, and preventing anything that could trigger them to become in a manic state”.
As Seb became older, he began missing days at school, and it was hard for him to do homework due to being unable to concentrate. When Seb was at school, he was turning up ‘shattered’ and unable to concentrate.
“I genuinely couldn’t focus so I was misbehaving and started to fall in with the wrong crowds.”
Without support from outside the family, Seb’s life was going off the rails, but with help from Carers First, he’s managed to turn his life around.
Seb was encouraged to join the Medway Together project training young carers as a Carers First Digital Champion to help older adults get online. Seb flourished through this project, completing the training, and successfully delivering group training with another young carer to six older adults. Seb has recently moved in with his mum and secured his first job, and says:
“Carers First has changed my life for the better, [they] have enabled me to access so much and been hugely beneficial shaping my life going forward. The support has helped my wellbeing and living situation.”
Talking on tonight’s ITV News, Saul Beeker, Faculty of Health, and Education says
“Young carers are being forced to become a hidden national health service, they are filling the gaps of our NHS service, and we are forcing children to do that because of the inadequacy and lack of funding in other parts of our welfare system.”
Alison Taylor, Chief Executive of Carers First says:
“At Carers First we know how important it is to support young carers; so they have time to thrive and have fun as children. This documentary highlights the extent to which very young children are drawn into supporting family members, because there is often a lack of other support available.
We welcome the Parliamentary Inquiry into the impact of young carers and how agencies can work together to identify and support children who are taking on heavy caring roles that is negatively impacting on their lives.”