Health chiefs commit to helping the 10,000 young carers in Essex
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Health chiefs say they are committed to helping the estimated 10,000 youngsters in Essex who act as unpaid carers.
Figures released by Essex County Council (ECC) have revealed the staggering number of children aged 8-18 who look after a family member.
However their efforts can have knock-on effects on the youngster’s own lives.
Around one in 20 misses school due to caring responsibilities, with young carers getting significantly lower GCSE achievements – equivalent to nine grades lower overall than their peers.
There are also above-average rates of young carers who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) between the ages of 16 and 19, and more than half of young carers have also reported a mental health problem – twice the national average.
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To help support these young carers ECC has this year introduced a secondary school-based service, and there is also a young adult carers’ transition support scheme for those aged 16-24.
Dr Hasan Chowhan, a north Essex GP, said: “For these young people, juggling the demands of school work, homework, their own childhood and caring for someone is a daily challenge and I would urge them to seek support if they have not already done so.
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“Supporting young carers is crucial if they are to get the best start in life and have opportunities for the future.”
Across north east Essex there are an estimated 33,920 carers in total – around 11% of the population.
Of these more than 8,300, nearly one-quarter, provide care for more than 50 hours per week.
Anne Brown, cabinet member for communities and healthy living at ECC, added: “Carers play a vital role in our communities and we are committed to ensuring they have access to the help and support they need.
“We know that supporting carers better can have a significant positive impact for both the carer and for the health and wellbeing of the person they are caring for.
“To help, there are lots of activities happening during Carers Week where you can get information and support if you are finding it hard or struggling to cope with looking after a loved one.”
The authority has jointly produced with the NHS and local charities a Carers Count document outlining the support available.
Supporting Carers in Essex can be contacted on 0300 0300 770 8090, weekdays 9am–4.30pm, or at email@example.com, while a rapid response service is available on the same number from 7am until 10pm every day for carers in a crisis.