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Surrey teen shares her experiences on Young Carers Awareness Day


7:02am 26th January 2017
(Updated 3:22pm 26th January 2017)

There are 14,000 young carers in Surrey, but how many of them actually reach out for the help that they so desperately need?

That's the question being asked today, on Young Carers Awareness Day.

Shockingly, statistics reveal that 62% of young carers are bullied, 38% have a mental health condition, 35% have an eating disorder and 10% self harm.

So who is a young carer?

“Children or young people under the age of 18 who provide regular and on-going care and emotional support to a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or misuses substances.”

That from The Association of Directors of Adult Services and the Association of Directors of Child Services.

So what is it like to juggle teenage life, school and caring for an ill relative?

We've been speaking to a 16 year-old carer from Surrey who wishes to remain anonymous.

While her peers have plenty of spare time to complete homework and see friends, she is often looking after her younger brother who has severe ADHD.

She tells Eagle: "It can be quite stressful because you don't live in a normal family.

"There's no escape from it, you do have to face it every day, and sometimes you have a bad day but you still have to carry on with it and that can be hard.

"I think the hardest thing to manage is your school work especially now I'm in Year 11 - because there's so much more to do and I don't always have time to do it.

"I don't always get to go out with my friends when I want to because there could be something going on with my brother.

"You don't get to see as much of your friends but luckily my friends are really understanding and are there for me."

She has this advice for others who are in a similar situation: "You're not alone and if you feel like you are in this situation, do reach out to your nearest Young Carers branch and get in contact with them because they do help a lot."

Surrey Young Carers will be at Guildford Spectrum today (Thursday) to provide more information for youngsters who find themselves in this kind of situation.

Meanwhile, a new play has been launched in Surrey to raise awareness about young carers.

'People Like Us' is commissioned by Action for Carers and hopes to reach around 6,000 students in the count.

The live play will be performed at 15 Surrey schools.

Action for Carers Surrey CEO, Jamie Gault said: "We hope that the play contributes towards encouraging a cultural shift in schools, where more conversations are had about these issues, which are affecting more and more young people.

"By raising awareness and understanding with this dynamic play and debate, we want to encourage schools to proactively promote their support and to identify the one in twelve of their students who are young carers."

One of the biggest issues surrounding young carers is the fact that many don't identify themselves as this.

Andy Erskine is Director of Mental Health and Nursing at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

He was once a young carer himself and tells Eagle: "One of the most important things about Young Carers Awareness Day is making sure that people start by identifying young carers.

"If you can't identify them in the first place, then you can't support them well either.

Andy Erskine

"Even as a young carer you might not understand that you're actually caring for someone.

"I think it's about everyone in the local community being a bit more carer aware.

"If the schools are more carer aware then they can be more understanding of young people and that's why awareness raising is so important because we don't know what goes on behind closed doors."

We're told of the 14,000 young carers in Surrey, 4,700 could be caring for someone with mental health issues.

For more information and help regarding young carers in Surrey, visit the Surrey Young Carers website.


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