There may be a range of barriers that are important to consider when working with BAME families and young carers

Teenage boy at desk talking with female project worker

Barriers may be organisational, preventing diversity and communication with communities. We have also explored specific barriers to health and social care, and barriers to education that young carers and families from BAME communities may face.

Issues preventing diversity

Below are some of the issues preventing diversity as identified by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). 

  • Lack of knowledge among black and minority ethnic communities about available support
  • Lack of appropriate services
  • Poor quality services
  • Lack of choice
  • Workers without effective communication skills
  • Workers without the skills and experience to work with racially and culturally diverse communities
  • Direct and institutional discrimination.

The following issues were also highlighted through consultation with practitioners, young carers and their families:

  • Language barriers, lack of interpreters and drawing on children as translators
  • Lack of trust in part based on previous experience of services as not culturally aware or sensitive
  • Refugee and immigration status may increase stress and risk of depression
  • Not feeling they are entitled to assessment or services
  • Poor communication about services and their limited reach
  • Reliance on volunteers
  • Isolation
  • Schools may not be alert or aware of issues surrounding young carers.

Cultural concepts of caring held by others may be based on assumptions and stereotyping:

  • 'They look after their own’ - adults’ social worker 
  • 'They’ll have a large extended family to help them out’ - children’s social worker.

Improve practice for BAME young carers and their families 

Barriers to health and social care

There are significant health and social inequalities linked to race and culture. Positive action is needed to address this. 

Barriers to health and social care support services for BAME communities include:

  • poor experiences of health and social care services and professionals that are not culturally sensitive 
  • lack of accessible information or culturally appropriate services, staff or volunteers
  • language barriers and misunderstanding about for example medical terms. This is common with some learning disabilities and mental health problems
  • stigma surrounding particular types of ill health and disability. Differing views and attitudes among the health and social care worker and the person needing care could impact upon treatment and support given.

Barriers to health and social care could result in young carers taking on further responsibilities in the absence of adequate support.

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Barriers to education

The likelihood is that in every primary school, secondary school and college, there will be a number of young carers. These children’s well-being and personal achievement may be affected by inappropriate and excessive practical and emotional caring responsibilities in the home. 

Young carers can face many barriers to achieving in education; including:

  • Bullying because of family illness, disability or caring role. Additional stigma can be present around certain disabilities in some cultures.
  • Isolation – finding it difficult to make new friends in their peer group, and being unable to maintain friendships due to lack of leisure time associated with a caring role
  • Difficulty completing homework
  • Poor attendance and achievement at school due to caring role
  • Being unable to take part in extra-circular activities
  • Tiredness and difficulty concentrating
  • Reduced well-being and confidence of young carers.

Being aware of this and having a school policy that helps identify, support, and refer them where necessary are vital first steps.

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