29 Jun 2012

Parental ill-health was the top childhood worry of adults across the country, reveals a poll by The Children’s Society to coincide with its annual Young Carers Festival, which runs from today through Sunday, 1 July.

Three-fifths (60%) of adults surveyed said that parental ill-health and getting in trouble were the things that worried them most as a child. This also appears to have been a greater fear in more recent times – 66% of 16-24 year olds had childhood worries about their parents' health, compared to 45% of over 65s.   

Parental ill-health and getting into trouble come above other childhood worries, such as fitting in (47%), being bullied (41%), being alone (39%) and spiders (39%). 

175,000 young carers across the UK

Living with the ill-health of a parent or relative is the reality for the 175,000 young carers across the UK - every day of their lives.

Evidence shows that anxiety and stress can have a big impact on young carers, such as issues at school, health problems, emotional difficulties, isolation, lack of time for leisure, pressure from keeping family problems a secret and problems with moving to adulthood.

Young Carers Festival

The Children’s Society and YMCA Fairthorne Manor host the annual Young Carer’s Festival for young carers, which aims to give them a chance to have fun, relax, socialise and forget their responsibilities for a weekend.

This year's festival's theme is 'Champions for Change'. The Children’s Society and YMCA Fairthorne Manor want to change the way young carers and their families receive support.  The Champions for Change campaign is calling for a 'whole-family approach' - a system that meets the needs of the whole family, not just the needs of the parent being cared for.

The Young Carers Festival is also an opportunity for young carers to help influence national policy and guidance for young carers and their families.

Highlights from the festival will include:

  • BBC Radio 4 Any Questions will broadcast live from the festival.
  • Young carers will also attempt to break a world record on Sunday for the most young people wearing paper hats.
  • Young Carers in Focus, a new programme of work funded by the Big Lottery Fund is set to launch at the festival. A team of young carer champions will be unveiling a new safe social networking site designed by and for young carers.

Jenny Frank, Programme Manager for The Children’s Society's Include programme, said: 'This poll clearly shows how significant a parent’s health is in the lives of children as they grow up. It comes above bullying, fitting in and other worries commonly connected to growing up.

'Coping with a parent being ill is something that literally tens of thousands of children, as young as ten years old, live with every day. It is so important that professionals support young carers and their families as early as possible and provide adequate support. The festival is great opportunity to bring young carers together and give them a very well deserved break from their responsibilities and give them a voice.'

Claire Percival, community projects coordinator at YMCA Fairthorne Manor said: 'This will be the 13th time we are holding the Young Carers Festival and every year we are going from strength to strength. It is such an important event for young carers. We will continue to listen and respond to young carers as we champion to change their lives for the better.'


Media information

For more information, interview opportunities and case studies please contact The Children’s Society media office on 020 7841 4422 or mea@childsoc.org.uk.

For more information about YMCA Fairthorne Manor please contact Roo Cleland, communications manager: 01489 785 228, ext 223 or Roo.Cleland@ymca-fg.org.

Notes to editors

  • The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children can be children, childhood is respected and every child is valued for who they are. We are resolute in our commitment to the most disadvantaged and those at risk. We challenge negative public attitudes towards children and young people are positive about what they can achieve. Our approach is driven by our Christian values and by the voices of children and young people, who are at the heart of all we do.
  • YMCA Fairthorne Manor, near Southampton, Hampshire, offers residential outdoor adventure and team-building programmes to schools and community groups from across the UK throughout the year. YMCA Fairthorne Manor actively engages with children and young people, providing positive experiences that will assist them into adulthood.
  • The Children's Society's Include programme is home to the National Young Carers Initiative and Hampshire Young Carers Initiative which promote multi-agency working with professionals, whole family support and good practice for young carers and their families. The Affecting Change for Families project that aims to improve support and awareness for families affected by HIV. The Big Lottery Fund Young Carers in Focus working in partnership and with young carers champions to advocate for young carers and their families.
  • The Big Lottery has funded The Children's Society to deliver the Young Carers In Focus project to give all young carers in England a voice, raise general public awareness and share learning to promote more affective innovative joined-up support. This project will be delivered in partnership with YMCA Fairthorne Manor, Rethink – Mental Illness, DigitalME, Radiowaves, The Fatherhood Institute and The AFIYA Trust. An England-wide online safe social network will be developed by young carers for young carers.
  • Poll conducted May 2012 in an online questionnaire with a sample of 1,011 members of the public aged 11-25.