Young carers in Barking and Dagenham “need more support”

Charities are calling on the Government to recognise the needs of young carers after new figures show shocking numbers of children are missing out on their childhoods.

Figures from the 2011 census show a 19 per cent increase in the number of young carers aged under 18 and a 83 per cent increase in the number of five to seven-year-olds providing unpaid care.

Carers Trust, a national charity, says the Children and Families Bill and Care Bill need to protect this vulnerable group of children and young people.

At Carers of Barking and Dagenham, a local charity providing support and training, around 500 of their registered 3,500 carers are aged under 18.

Sue Bernie, deputy director, said young carers needed the right support so they do not miss out on opportunities that other people of their age are given.

“A lot of people don’t realise they are a carer because they are looking after a loved one and that’s something we all do. Some people are very happy in their role but for others it can be very isolating. They may not have time to continue with their hobbies and it may stop them going off to college,” she said.

“We offer young people support to make sure they are able to go to school and enable them to reach their full potential. If college is something they want to do, that’s something we will help them to achieve.”