Plight of young carers highlighted: almost three-quarters of young carers feel lonely during the school holidays, research by Action for Children and Carers Trust has found.
One in five young carers have never been on a summer holiday with their family and nearly half spend more than four hours a day during the summer holidays caring for a relative.
Carol Iddon, Action for Children’s managing director of children’s services, said: “The summer holidays can be heart-breaking for young carers who are often isolated and trapped at home, while their friends are having fun in the sunshine, playing sports or enjoying adventures abroad.
“We see first-hand the awful impact of loneliness and stress on young carers, who dedicate their lives to helping their loved ones. These children are often desperate for a break from their duties and to have a bit of fun in their holidays – that’s why young carer respite services are such a lifeline for them,” she added.
There are an estimated 700,000 children and young people in the UK caring for a family member with a disability, illness or mental health problem. Some young carers are five years old yet young carers help with practical tasks around the home such as cooking, housework and shopping; physical care, such as helping someone out of bed; and personal care, such as helping someone dress.
Spending so much time caring for relative during the summer holidays can have an impact on young carers. Sixty per cent feel more stressed or worried during the holidays while almost 60 per cent worry about talking about what they did in the summer break when they go back to school.
Yet worryingly funded support for vulnerable young carers, such as respite services, continues to be put on the back-burner. Action for Children and Carers Trust are calling on the government to ensure local authorities have the funding they need to provide all young carers and their families with support. Without it these vulnerable children and families are left without help, which hugely affects young carers’ life chances.
Giles Meyer, chief executive of Carers Trust, said: “Summer can be an incredibly difficult time for young carers who may feel more stressed, lonely or sad than usual, and long to have a summer holiday just like everyone else. Carers Trust know that too many young carers go without support over the holidays and our evidence shows that being a young carer is a risk factor for their mental health.
“Whilst our joint Young Carers in Schools programme provides many young carers with the support they need to do well during term time, this support doesn’t happen in the holidays when schools are closed; if local councils don’t step in, this can mean young carers need to do more caring over the summer,” he added.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said: "Young carers often face significant challenges, and these don’t go away during the summer holidays as this research shows. Councils across the country work hard to make sure young carers are able to access the support they need, however with children’s services facing a £3 billion funding gap by 2025 and enormous challenges in the adult social care sector too, this is getting increasingly difficult.
"As our adult social care green paper launched this week highlights, unpaid carers of all ages need to be supported so that they can enjoy their lives in the way that they want to. We need a nationwide public debate about the future of care for all adults and it is important the voice of young carers is heard in that," she added.