Young Carers Action Day 2022

Discover how Great Yarmouth & Gorleston Young Carers Project have been taking action on isolation

Young carers can feel isolated at the best of times. They can feel forgotten and invisible because of the need to provide care out of sight in their family homes. During lockdown, however, children living with clinically vulnerable parents or siblings were forced to isolate as part of the shielding programme, adding to this sense of isolation. On top of this, many respite services were cut back or lost entirely due to the danger of entering vulnerable people’s homes and the imposed restrictions on movement.

Great Yarmouth & Gorleston Young Carers Project offer age-specific peer support groups to young carers and young adult carers across the Borough of Great Yarmouth. These peer groups offer support from youth workers, respite from caring responsibilities, a chance to make new friends, awareness and information sessions, and other learning opportunities. When the first lockdown came into effect, the Project was forced to close. They sent out leaflets within the first couple of days explaining where families could get help if they needed it, and worked to get their important peer support groups up-and-running again.

The group started a pilot scheme on 20th April 2020, where they delivered an online Peer Support Service through Zoom with all their young people. The successful pilot led to an online support service through virtual groups, offered weekly to the young carers. During this time, however, they discovered that some young people did not have access to PCs or laptops, and therefore were struggling to undertake their school work and were unable to join in with the Zoom groups to stay in contact with the Project and their peers.

Today is young carers action day. A young man smiles, drinking a cup of coffee

Fortunately, the group was able to secure funding from Norfolk Community Foundation’s Covid-19 Community Response Programme. The funding allowed the group to purchase some laptops to allocate to the most isolated young carers, allowing them not only to participate in the peer support network, but also to complete schoolwork and socialise with friends outside of sessions.

Norfolk Community Foundation helped provide devices to many groups over the course of the pandemic
Norfolk Community Foundation helped provide devices to many groups over the course of the pandemic

This Young Carers Action Day’s theme is Taking Action on Isolation.

Young carers lost much of their respite care and many lost out on additional assistance during the pandemic. These increased care demands have been made worse the enforced social isolation. Isolation is known to have ill effects on mental wellbeing. Before COVID-19, young carers were one of the most hidden groups in society. The closure of schools, universities and other educational settings has cut many young carers off from their regular forms of social contact, such as teachers and peers, further increasing this isolation. Restrictions imposed on social engagement, and the suspension of extra-curricular activities, has also added to this. Add to this the stress of caring for a vulnerable loved one, the increased experience of worry among young carers represents another risk for their mental health.

Whilst schools, colleges, universities and clubs were closed, the Project kept their services open and accessible to all, ensuring that children were not left completely isolated during these difficult times.

Young Carers Action Day is an annual event, organised each year by Carers Trust. It aims to raise public awareness of young carers and young adult carers, the pressures and challenges they face, and the incredible contribution they make by caring for their family members and friends. It is also a day to call for more action to support young and young adult carers and give them the extra bit of help they need to live full and healthy lives.

Norfolk Community Foundation is privileged to do our part in supporting not only with Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Young Carers Project, but with a host truly inspiring charities such as Norfolk Family Carers and West Norfolk Carers, all of whom help to improve the lives of young carers in our county.