Members of Wigan & Leigh Young Carers (pictured before the social distancing measures.)

According to Carers UK, there are approximately 6.5 million carers in the UK, and Every day another 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility.[1]. Recent findings from Carers UK show an estimated 4.5 million people in the UK have become unpaid carers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic[2], driving these numbers up even higher.

Carers’ Rights Day, this year taking place on 26 November, aims to ensure carers are aware of their rights, lets carers know where to get help and support and raises awareness of the needs of carers, with this year’s theme being ‘Know Your Rights.’

Understanding your rights, and having confidence to demand your rights are met, is part of having individual or collective control over your life, an important social determinant of health which affects the quality of your health, and life. Feeling unable to affect what is happening, and what choices and options are meaningfully available can lead to low self-confidence and self-esteem, making challenges young carers face even more difficult. According to Carers UK, 72% of carers responding to Carers UK's State of Caring 2018 Survey said they had suffered mental ill health as a result of caring and 61% said they had suffered physical ill health as a result of caring.[3]

Wigan and Leigh Young Carers, an organisation based in Wigan and their project ‘Healthy Mind, Healthy You - Transition Service’ funded through the Trust’s Active Communities programme, supports young adult carers aged 14-24 who are experiencing isolation and limited social, educational and employment opportunities. Using peer support groups and residential breaks, the project supports young carers to gain friendships, and encourages members to achieve through engagement and training.

The project has been continuing their services during the pandemic online, providing sessions for their members including one-to-one support discussions along with physical and emotional wellbeing sessions and nutritional advice. This is vital work as according to a survey by the Carers Trust, 59% of young adult carers say their mental health is worse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.[4]

This Carers’ Rights Day, the project will be continuing to support young carers to understand their right to an important part of life, leisure time, which is particularly valuable for young people. As young carers are recognised as a potentially vulnerable group in society, who can suffer low self-esteem due to feeling different from their peers, and due to a lack of leisure time, can often be tired and worried.

Paul Carroll, Project Manager of Wigan & Leigh Young careers, said, “Carers’ Rights Day this year is all about empowering young carers with information and support, we want to make sure young carers are aware of their rights and feel confident in asking for the support they need.

But also, that young carers are supported to challenge things, when their rights are not being met. To ensure that young carers have the same opportunities as everyone else. As a charity we also aim to raise aspirations for our young carers and help them to achieve their goals with support and respite.”

Wigan & Leigh Young Carers is funded through the Trust’s Active Communities programme with money raised by Health Lottery North West.

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