"When you are a young carer there sometimes simply isn’t time to do extra homework or sometimes any homework." Guest blog by Katie Doyle, School Development Officer at The Junction Foundation

Picture of Katie Doyle- The Junction Foundation

06 January 2021

Hi, my names Katie. I am part of The Junction Foundation’s Young Carers Service. I joined the team just over a year ago having previously managed a home for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. A young person interviewed me for my role which was amazing; seeing how central young people were to the decision making within the organisation really made me want to be part of it all.

Young carers writing

I am the School Development Worker. I work with local schools to raise awareness of young carers. The project aims to ensure that schools can identify students in a caring role, understand the impact of that role and be able to offer them appropriate support. Our long-term goal is for all schools to have an appointed young carers champion, who young carers can go to for support but who also keeps young carers an active topic within their school.

Young carers essentially have to grow up quickly and miss out on a lot of their childhood and youth due to extra responsibilities and pressures. When they come to our social groups and activities you can really see them loving being children, leaving their responsibilities at home for a little while and having fun. Although some still struggle to relax, I’ve seen first-hand how supportive the staff are, giving young people the reassurance that everything is ok at home while they have fun. Over time it's lovely to see them becoming more resilient, confident, and building friendships. This is what drives me in my role to help young carers to be recognised, understood, and supported.  

When you are a young carer there sometimes simply isn’t time to do extra homework or sometimes any homework. Maybe the reason they are late every day is that they have too much responsibility at home, their exhausted and need support, understanding and an assessment to identify their needs. Schools that are able to identify young carers can ensure they are prioritised for support such as homework clubs, school trips, equipment etc. Asking schools to rethink things like detention if a young carer needs to collect siblings from school or be home to support with medication. Understanding that for some young carers, being able to ring home and check on loved ones or keep a phone on them for emergencies, can really help alleviate anxiety. We are not saying that all negative behaviour should be overlooked and not challenged or that young carers should be given preferential treatment we are simply trying to aid understanding of the reasons why some pupils may behave in certain ways and help schools identify other ways of dealing with things that do not exacerbate any pressure at home for the young carer.

Spiral of work

Some schools have really embraced the service and seen some amazing outcomes for their young people. We know they are embedding young carers into the culture of their school as we have regular contact and referrals which is fantastic. Some schools have facilitated emotional wellbeing groups for young carers provided by The Junction Foundation. Other schools are submitting applications for awards, which shows they have made changes to their school to best support young carers. Due to Covid-19 schools are under significant pressure and have been more difficult to engage. Understandably schools have a significant workload at present, however, young carers still need support, and The Junction Foundation can alleviate some of the responsibilities of schools by completing a young carer's assessment.

Identifying young carers and offering an assessment can often alleviate the caring pressures for young people and have a significant impact on their physical and emotional wellbeing as well as their families. Often schools are not aware of young carers right to assessment within the Children and Family Act 2014. Assessments look at the whole family, their needs as a unit and as individuals. I’ve seen young people’s attendance and punctuality massively improve simply because a parent received an occupational health assessment and now has the aids that they need and therefore needs less assistance from the young carer.

Are you working in a school and interested in learning more about Katie’s role and the work of The Junction Foundation? Use the details below to contact the team.

If you are a young carer and are finding your home and school life balance conflicting you can ask to be referred to The Junction Foundation or contact us directly and we will work alongside your school to ensure you received the support and understanding you needed.

Tel: 01642 756000

www.thejunctionfoundation.com

E-mail: info@thejunctionfoundation.com

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