Pictured above is Sean Collins who helps care for his mum Annette (also pictured) who has cancer and his older sister Kathryn who has an intellectual disability. Sean will be 1 of 5 young carers speaking at the Young Carer Forum on Young Carers Action Day.
16 March 2022: This Young Carers Action Day (Wednesday, 16th March), Family Carers Ireland is seeking to give young carers a voice and to ensure policymakers take notice of who they are, what they do, the very real challenges they face and why they need support.
Young Carers Action Day aims to raise public awareness of young carers and young adult carers and the incredible contribution they make by caring for loved ones. It is also a day to call for more action to support young people with caring responsibilities and to give them the extra bit of help they need to live full and healthy lives.
A virtual Young Carers Forum, hosted by Family Carers Ireland, will give young carers from across the country the opportunity to meet directly with legislators to discuss a range of topics including young carer awareness, education, mental health, peer support, respite and highlight the actions they feel need to be taken by Government.
There are an estimated 67,000 people in Ireland under the age of 18 who provide support and assistance to their loved ones who need additional care because of chronic illness, mental health problems, disability, alcohol, or substance misuse. This caregiving includes household tasks such as shopping, cleaning and cooking as well as assisting with bathing, dressing, walking and providing emotional support.
Other activities organised for Young Carers Action Day include a social media campaign where young carers are being encouraged to share a selfie as they go about their caring routine using the hashtag #ICareEveryDay and an online table quiz where young carer groups from across the Island of Ireland will battle it out.
Family Carers Ireland’s Young Carer Team Lead, Padraig McGrath stated: “The past two years have been difficult for us all, but young carers have been particularly impacted by the pandemic. Many young people will have had an increase to their caring role and indeed some young people may have become carers for the first time. As a result of all the school closures and restrictions on movement, many won’t have had the same level of peer support and escape that they relied upon before Covid-19. Now as we emerge from pandemic life, we need to begin properly recognising and supporting this vulnerable group of young people to ensure the impact of this period doesn’t leave lasting scars.”
Young carer Sean Collins (18), who will be speaking at the forum, helps care for his mum Annette who has cancer and his older sister Kathryn who has an intellectual disability. He said: “I didn’t even know I was a young carer until I was nominated for an award. There is a serious lack of awareness about young carers in society but especially among professionals.”
Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy, Family Carers Ireland added: “The caring role can have a profound impact on the things that are important to growing up. It can also affect the health, social life and self-confidence of young carers as well as impacting their experiences and outcomes in education which can have a lasting effect on their life opportunities. No one should have to care alone, especially a young person. For young carers, having the right support can be really beneficial, giving them a better chance of succeeding in all parts of their lives.”
Information on supports for young carers can be found on www.youngcarers.ie.