Every local councillor in Northern Ireland is being asked what they are doing to find young adult carers and let them know they have a right to information and support.
Carers Trust, the largest charity for carers, has written to Northern Ireland local councillors to ask them what they are doing or plan to do to support carers between the ages of 14 and 25 who are providing unpaid care for their sick or disabled family member.
Their responses will be placed on a map for Carers Trust “On the Map” campaign, which is part of the charity’s commitment to identify and raise awareness of young adult carers and ensure they receive the help and support they need.
Sean Caughey, Carers Trust Development Manager for Northern Ireland, said:
“Many young adult carers have never known what help is available to them, even though their caring role often has a negative impact on their education, their health and their life chances. We want to make sure that young adult carers are a priority for local authorities and that they are taking steps to help identify, assess and support them.
“Support for carers of all ages have long been seen as the responsibility of Health Trusts but the landscape has substantially changed in recent years. The need for support for carers is a community responsibility. Six out of 10 of us will become carers in our lifetime and 17% of our population is caring at any one particular time. Carers are our family our friends and our neighbours.
“Carers Trust in Northern Ireland is asking councillors throughout Northern Ireland to engage in the “On the Map” campaign and actively place the issue of carers at the heart of their Community Planning Strategies.”
According to the 2011 Census, there are 17,000 young adult carers in Northern Ireland but the true number remains unknown as many are still hidden or unidentified.
Chloe (21), a young adult carer herself, knows what a difference it makes to be identified and to get support.
“I went for three years without getting any help as a young adult carer. Once I was identified I got advice and support from a service in my area which really understood what I was going through.
“It only made a real difference when I was at college as I could not cope at home anymore and had to leave my family home. That’s when I finally got all the help that I needed. I still attended my local young adult carers support group where I felt just like any other young person.
“A lot of young adult carers don’t know what’s available or they’ve been let down by services in the past when they have needed them most. What they need is for the people who work for local services to understand who young adult carers are and to direct them to advice and carer services.”