Young Carers: For me: it’s personal by Dr Wanda Wyporska, ATL Lead Equalities Officer
I was honoured to be part of the panel for a young carers Question Time event held by Carers Trust on the extremely successful Young Carers Awareness Day in January 2016. Yet beforehand I was nervous, because I was a young carer and I was quite scared of revisiting those years of what ought to have been my childhood. Listening to young people speak about caring for their parents and family members in such a matter of fact way belied the resilience, coping mechanisms and maturity that every single one of them have acquired, albeit under very difficult circumstances.
I was lucky at my school, because the teachers all knew about my caring and were supportive. Sadly we know that isn’t the case everywhere and often education staff simply do not know about a child or young person’s caring responsibilities. Many young carers have told me how they have to explain their situation time and time again, to another teacher, another member of support staff, or to another person at college . And this can be extremely traumatic, facing the stigma that many conditions are still subject to, especially if a family member has a mental health condition or a dependency issue. That’s why when Carers Trust approached ATL about backing the Young Carers in Schools programme, I jumped at the chance.
We believe in a whole school approach, where carers are identified and supported. We encourage schools to sign up to the Young Carers in Schools programme, so that these children and young people who are under so much pressure at home, can reach their full potential at school. I want every young carer to be as lucky and supported as I was. The Young Carers in Schools programme makes it as easy as possible for every school and every teacher to make this a reality for every young carer.