Mournes Councillor Laura Devlin presents motion to coucil on role of young unpaid carers
The Motion by Cllr Laura Devlin on young unpaid carers.
“Noting that there are currently over 220,000 unpaid carers across the North; recognising the essential role that young carers in particular play within the community; expressing its concern that during holiday periods such carers can face increased stress, loneliness and isolation, and further noting that unpaid carers save the government an estimated £1million per year, this Council agrees to write to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health calling for increased financial support for these unpaid carers to be used for respite, residential breaks or recreation for their health and well-being.“
Speaking after reading her motion to Newry Mourne and Down District Council, SDLP Mournes Councillor Laura Devlin said: “As we all know, Carers in general are essential within our social care system.
“But their role is often undervalued and un-appreciated by Government.
“There are about 8,000 young people in Northern Ireland who undertake unpaid caring roles, with the latest census showing 2,600 of them under 15 years of age.
“These carers can be caring for their parents, their siblings or other family members.
“However, during the summer and other holiday periods they can feel really isolated and actually burn out.
“They miss the routine and structure of the school day and seeing their friends.
“But during summer periods, they are needed more by the family unit – whether that is caring for a sibling who would usually be at school or day care or assisting with elderly relatives.
“Other teenagers or children their age are maybe having sleep-ins, meeting up with friends and generally unwinding after the school year but for young carers, life can be very different.
“And this is often magnified over the summer break when they get little or no time away from the family unit.
“When a child is unwell or has additional needs, the family unit often revolves around them and their day-to-day life, activities, Days out, trips away (if they are an option) can all be dependent upon that one person and other family members take a back seat, which is totally understandable.
“But Government must recognise this and recognise that these children often give up a significant chunk of their own childhood whilst caring for a loved one.”
A report from Action for Children and Carers Trust found 86% of young carers were more stressed or worried during the summer holidays than during term-time.
Cllr Devlin said that there were 260 young carers in the South Eastern, Belfast and Southern Trusts who needed increased support during this time of year.
She added: “That’s a lot of additional pressure on those young shoulders. These young people need a break too or it can lead to burn out on down the line.
“There are some amazing organisations such as Barnardo’s NI and Action for Children who do incredible work across these islands to support carers.
“And then locally we have organisations such as the ADHD Hub, Unit T, Unit T Stars – all doing their utmost to support carers and young carers.
“They recognise and know the challenges that are out there, and they never forget those with caring responsibilities.
“They understand the needs of those suffering but also those doing their best in that vital supporting role. But all of this should not come down to charity.
“The above organisations have hosted many superb events and activities – ranging from heat and eat, carers cook along and Beat the Blues, but I feel that the Voluntary and Charitable sector is absolutely plugging the glaring hole that exists.
“This group of carers is often hidden and actually saves the Government over £1m per year as they are too young to claim Carers Allowance. So, at the very least, Government must recognise this financial saving and look at ways to reward these young carers.
“It is vital that they get sufficient respite and breaks to ensure they have the physical and emotional wellness to continue caring for that loved one into the future.
“I have mentioned just a few organisations there Chair but I do know that right across the Board – many other organisations offer support but its mainly from the Voluntary Sector and we all know of the pressures that they are under in the current financial climate.
“This is a much bigger issue than people think Chair and one for a local Minister in Stormont to consider and to consider now.”The motion was seconded by Cllr Terry Andrews.
`the motion received support and it was agreed to write a letter to the Permanent Secretary of Health asking for consideration for the young carers and to also copy the motion to the other 10 councils.