With one in five secondary school pupils in England having a caring responsibility, it is unsurprising that they make up a number of cases seen by Father Hudson’s Family Support Service. In 2017-18, Family Support Workers helped ten young carers to improve their mental health and wellbeing and cope with the pressures they felt.

Jake is one of the young carers supported by a Family Support Worker. He was in Year Eight when his school referred him to Carla for support because his attendance was poor.

Jake cares for his father, who experiences daily fits and suffers from a sleep disorder that keeps Jake and his two sisters awake at night. Jake and his sister, Lauren, also care for their sister who has autism. She is being home-educated while a placement is sought, and there are multiple adaptations taking place at home to support Jake’s father and sister’s needs. In addition to his caring responsibilities, Jake was, at the time of his referral, undergoing medical tests himself for Crohn’s disease, which led to him missing school.

Over the course of six months, Carla worked closely with Jake, Lauren and their parents to support the whole family. She offered Jake and Lauren a safe, impartial and understanding person to talk to about their concerns, supporting their emotional wellbeing.

Lauren was having issues with bullying and experiencing low self-esteem as a result. Carla worked with Lauren on a one-to-one basis to help her rebuild her sense of self-worth and increase her confidence. Both Jake and Lauren learned about good and bad friendships, which helped them gain assuredness within their peer groups and improve their friendships.

Lauren said, “Carla has helped me feel more confident about myself and enabled me to open up to people. She helped me with my friendships when times were hard. I am in control of who I choose as friends, and I know what makes a good and bad friend. She has been supportive all the way.”

Carla supported their mother to strengthen the relationship between the home and the school, which has brought multiple benefits. All teachers are now aware of Jake and Lauren’s caring role, the impact this can have and how to support them. Carla also made arrangements for Jake and Lauren to complete their homework in school time, so they didn’t have this to worry about at home. While their mother was away temporarily, Carla phoned Jake and Lauren on a daily basis to ensure their attendance at school was not affected.

Carla also referred the family to a Carers Hub provided by their local council, which opened up a range of professional support as well as the chance to meet others with similar experiences. Through this, Jake and Lauren accessed the Young Carers service for extra support from professionals experienced in their specific needs. Jake and Lauren now have the support as well as the skills needed in their caring role and feel confident and secure in that role. They also know how to access help if they need it in the future.

Jake said, “Carla helped me to make better choices and I am now able to manage difficult situations. She listened to what I had to say and I feel more confident and supported at home, school and at young carers.”

Although Carla initially became involved after a referral for Jake, the whole family benefitted from her caring support. They are stronger and better able to cope with challenges they face.

Names have been changed to protect identities.

31 January is Young Carers Awareness Day, a campaign by the Carers Trust to raise awareness of and support for young carers’ mental health. Find out more on their website: https://carers.org/young-carers-awareness-day-2019

Father Hudson’s Family Support Service works in schools to support children and young people who are experiencing adversity. Through one-to-one casework, one-off support, workshops and groups, they support the whole family to deal with the difficulties they face. Find out more about the service at: https://www.fatherhudsons.org.uk/children-and-families/family-support/4.htm