Council wants to 'identify' young carers after detention claims

An estimated 40 per cent of young carers don't tell anyone outside their family about their circumstances.
An estimated 40 per cent of young carers don't tell anyone outside their family about their circumstances.

Wakefield Council has said it wants to "identify" and help young carers, following claims some schools are unaware of pupils who support a family member at home.

A meeting on Wednesday heard that some young carers were being put in detention for turning up late to school by teachers who are oblivious to their personal circumstances.

Councillor Kathy Scott said she wanted young carer 'cards', which pupils could show discreetly to teachers to excuse them for lateness, to be reintroduced in Wakefield. They had been axed at the end of a pilot scheme.

But the authority says that a number of youngsters were uncomfortable using the cards and so it is looking at other ways to support them.

Andy Lancashire, the council's service director for education and inclusion, said: “We are fully committed to supporting young carers in our district.

"Several years ago we supported a campaign by the Youth Parliament to introduce carers cards for young people to use at school, as a non-verbal way to tell staff there were reasons why, for example, they were late or homework hadn’t been completed.

"The campaign was for a limited period. Recent feedback though has suggested that many young carers chose not to use this type of card due to feelings of embarrassment or concerns about stigma.

"We are keen to ensure the voices of young people are heard and are actively seeking the views of young carers through our partnership programme with schools, which aims to raise awareness of the many challenges they face.

"We want to ensure that young carers and their families are identified and supported through multi-agency working."

A conference for young carers in the district was held last week in a bid to raise awareness about the work they do.

Figures from the Carers Trust suggest around 40 per cent of young people who look after a relative don't tell anyone else about it.

Abbie Houghton, who represents Wakefield in the Youth Parliament and is a young carer herself said: "We don’t have the same lifestyle as other young people, our experience of being a child is completely different.

"We often have to grow up faster than other young people. Being a carer is normal to us and sometimes young people may not know they are a carer.

"We don’t want to feel different from other young people or feel isolated but what we do want is support and to raise awareness of what it is like to be us."