Posted: 10 April 2020

Empty shelves and endless information: young carers and Covid-19

Thousands of vulnerable children who are already struggling are now having to face new challenges because of Coronavirus Covid-19. 

Many children and young people across the country will find themselves taking on caring roles as parents and carers become ill with Covid-19. Those who are already young carers will have to deal with the added pressures that a lockdown creates.

It’s vital that young carers get adequate support to help them through these difficult times.

Empty shelves and added pressure

During this crisis, there will be added pressure on young carers to get food and supplies, but many won’t have access to larger stores so may miss out on getting the basics they need.

‘young carers are telling us they are too worried to go out and leave the person they care for’ - Practitioner

The outbreak could also pose additional worries and anxiety for young carers looking after loved ones with complex health needs. They may be concerned how to give vital support without putting their family at risk. There’s so much information out there but it’s difficult to know what to trust.

Keeping focus 

Although it’s difficult to balance school and caring responsibilities, school is vital for learning, taking a break from caring and socializing with friends. They also provide young people with trusted professionals to talk to. Without school or college, young carers will lose an important layer of support, and they may lose focus of future opportunities. 

Helen Leadbitter, Young Carers lead, says ‘attendance at school would help reduce isolation for young carers, support their education and…[allow] access to supportive and known professionals who can ensure they are not put at risk and that their family’s health care needs are met’. 

Emergency measures

Emergency measures have meant that local authorities have been released from their duties to carry out assessments for young carers moving into adulthood. With services being so stretched, we’re worried that young carers will miss out on this vital support which helps them think about their future.

Helen says ‘This will likely be a very stressful and anxious time for them so regular phone calls could be used to identify any emerging needs or concerns.’

Further challenges

Households with young carers looking after those with drug and alcohol dependencies may also struggle as health centres close and support sessions are reduced.

Likewise, the lockdown will put low income families under additional strains, especially without school meals, and carers may struggle to get the food they need.

Supporting young carers 

We’re doing everything we can to continue to be there for young carers and give them the support they need to carry on caring and not give up on their futures.

Please donate to our emergency lifeline appeal to help the country’s most vulnerable children in this time of crisis.


By Kaja Zuvac-Graves

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