What Age is too Young to be a Young Carer?

On Monday 11 November 2017, the Evening Standard announced that they are going to start an investigation called The Lost Childhoods. The aim of this new investigation is to bring to light all of the children in London who are vulnerable to “poverty, homelessness, disability, mental health and abuse” (Cohen). In his first article, writer David Cohen interviews Beau Broomfield, an eight year old boy who is serving as his sick mother’s full time carer.

Beau describes himself as a very worried child and knows that most kids his age do not have the struggles that he deals with on a daily basis. Ever since he came home to his mum collapsed on the floor, he has taken it upon himself to handle all of her medical needs and house work. He reminds her when to take her pills, helps her move about the house, prepares meals, does laundry, and goes to school. In his mind he knows that he should be out playing with the rest of his 8 year old friends, but his response was “I am worried to leave mum so I stay here” (Broomfield).

Unfortunately, Beau’s case is not unique to London’s young people. According to the Children’s Commissioner of England “there are 171,024 young unpaid carers under 18 (in London alone). Some are just under five years old” (Cohen). The reason that the numbers are so high is because many families cannot afford to hire a professional carer, so they rely on their children to take care of them. Beau’s mother, Rose Coffen, for example, has been classified as an ‘in need’ patient, but it has taken Richmond council months to finally accept her preference of opting for a direct payment for the carer. Aid is just now coming to her even though she has been sick for 4 years.

After reading this article, and the summary of the rest of the investigation that ES is doing on lost childhoods, it is vital that we look into not only the rights of the carers, but those who are receiving care. Priority should be granted to those who rely on their children for care, because not only are they in need, but the young people are as well. Beau is growing up around sickness and worry, and he is dealing with it alone. There needs to be more of an emphasis on helping these children as well. As much as they love their parents, it is unfair for them not to have some time to be a kid. Carers should be accessible for people who need them the most. Everyone deserves are fair chance. The sick needs carers, carers need jobs, and children need to be children. Thank you to all of the children who are providing care for their parents, but more needs to be done to help.

Keep up with the Evening Standard’s investigation: The Lost Childhoods to see how you can get involved. Also, stay up to date with the 99% Campaign for ways to bring more rights to young people.


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