COVID-19 restrictions have had an impact on schools and young carers. But throughout the pandemic we have continued to work with schools to ensure they can identify pupils, who can be as young as five, who are young carers.
This has included continuing to deliver Primary School ‘bubble’ assemblies (adhering to all government guidelines) using our EYFS and Key Stage 1 resources.
Below is just one example of how this can make a difference to a school, and a young carer.
Belinda Jones, who is a carer awareness and voice co-ordinator, explained what happened*
“When we go into a school we really want to see our work make a difference – to help the staff feel more confident and equipped to identify you carers, and for young carers to be identified and supported. This can have a huge impact long after we have held the assembly and left the school with resources they can use.
Following a Year 2 ‘bubble’ assembly, a teacher asked if he could have a conversation with me in private. He explained that he was aware of a student in his class who has a brother who has a disability. This student never talks about or mentions her brother and would avoid the subject if anyone attempts to open a conversation about her with him.
The teacher said that during the assembly, they had seen this student looking increasingly more uncomfortable the more I spoke. ‘Bubble’ assemblies are very interactive and fun with lots of ‘hands up’ opportunities, which the teacher said this student would usually have taken part in with ‘great enthusiasm’ but had clearly felt too uncomfortable to take part.
The teacher asked my opinion as to whether or not he should try and open up a conversation with her about the fact that she is a young carer. I suggested leaving it for a day or two to let everything I had talked about sink in and settle, and to then try to gently have that conversation with her.
I called the teacher a week later to ask if he had had the conversation with his student and if he was happy to share the outcome with me?
He said that he had left it for a couple of days, and then during a 1-2-1 intervention session with this student he had asked her what she had thought about the young carers assembly? Again, looking uncomfortable she had put her head down and said it was ‘good and interesting’.
He explained that he her had asked her if she thought she might be a young carer. He told me that the student nodded and she then went on to say that some of her friends had said to her that she might be a young carer, but she had already known that she was before they had said it to her.
The teacher said he had then reiterated all of the things that I had talked about in the assembly – about how you should feel ‘proud’ to be a young carer, how you are never alone and that there are other young carers in the school too. The teacher said he had asked if she thought she might like to join the young carers group in school when it starts running.
It was lovely to hear at this point she looked more relaxed and smiled and said that she would really like that. She had then gone on to talk about her brother and his disabilities, something she had never done before.
The teacher told me she had skipped out of their intervention session and was relaxed and happy in class for the rest of the day.
This was a good example of the impact an assembly can make in raising awareness, raising the profile of young carers, and in reducing stigma around being a young carer.
It is so important allowing young carers to feel more comfortable in talking about their caring role.
It also shows the positive impact it can have when peers are able to identify fellow students who are young carers and teaches them to be supportive and kind to friends with a caring role.”
*To ensure anonymity some specific details have been omitted / changed.
If you would like to find out more about the support we have available for schools please see caringtogether.org/professionals/schools-colleges-universities