Tag Archives: young carers

Bromley, Greenwich & Lewisham BAME Carer Forum June 2021

Welcome to a brief update of my BAME carers forum for June. The BAME carers forum is an online forum aimed at those who care for someone suffering mental illness, except the forum covers ethnic experiences regarding caring along with discussions on how serious mental illness affects minorities and diverse communities.

For June 2021 the speakers were

  • Faith Smith (carer) on her Section 136 project
  • Keisha York from BAME in Psychiatry & Psychology
  • Sharon Jennings of Goldsmiths University
  • Emma James Senior Policy Advisor at Barnardo’s

Faith Smith Presents on her Section 136 project

Faith started off explaining how she became a carer, which led to her being a carer advocate due to being involved at South London and Maudsley NHS foundation trust, which led to her joining their involvement register. She was introduced to the involvement register a care coordinator, which she does interview panels, sit on focus groups, training with staff and joining trust values day, which is a staff induction day.

Faith Smith has now been asked to chair and set up a group that is going to be PAN London group. Its aim is to explore section 136 of the Mental Health Act. Section 136 Mental is where the police have the power to remove a person from a public place, if they appear to be suffering from a mental disorder disorder and move them to a place of safety.

The place of safety could be a hospital, although often the outcomes have not been as they should be, and in past experiences there have been tragic events involving the police and those in mental distress. So the idea is that this group that she is going to be setting up, is going to be a solution focus group. The group is going to be made up of experts by experience to be either carers or service users. Where the aim is going to be to map the journey of Section 136. So if an individual has that map, then the journey will be looking at what improvements could be made. So here we can see what outcomes could have been different along the way at each stage, from being someone first becoming unwell to the police being called to then take the person to a place of safety, the hospital or the police station or wherever? And then the outcome how could that experience have been made better? So it’s to identify improvement. Faith wanted to see if members could be involved or at least spread the word.

A question from a carer member queried if 136 was going to be split into two sections where one is for other people or older adults?

Sharon Jennings from Goldsmith university Sociology course presents

Sharon was excited to hear how carers can set up research groups. This was in regards to Faith’s presentation. Sharon mentioned that at Goldsmiths university also have an experts by experience group. This group is for the Social Work courses, and they do a lot of teaching. The experts are involved in the admissions of students, looking at policies and much more. Sharon was happy to ask if forum members were interested of being part of that group or at least being involved with the group, it’s really about developing terms of new social workers, as in social work students on the awareness of service user/carer issues and understanding how to speak to people that use services.

One of the things Sharon wanted to talk about was on the inequalities of social care and racial inequality in social work, but mainly from the position of practitioners. Sharon wanted to point out the kinds of challenges for black Social Work practitioners. She was not sure if most people at my BAME carers forum would have had some kind of contact with a social workers, either in one way or another good, bad or indifferent. Sharon wanted to start with the importance of social work from the students perspective and the experience of black students or black and ethnic minority students.

Sharon mentioned some research done between 2009 and 2012, which was published in 2014. It was asking black and ethnic minority students about almost about their experiences on social work programs in the UK. People felt like they were in an uninhabitable terrain, being on a course of social work or degree course. It was hard to be themselves. It was hard to breathe, it was hard to relax. It was hard to feel that they belong there. They felt that they were climbing and climbing, but not being appreciated, not being valued.

Sharon felt the students found it really difficult to open up about how they felt. We expect our social experience from day one to start talking about their lives, the backgrounds, family, their relationships, their everything in order to talk about there experiences. People don’t feel comfortable on day one doing that, trust has to build up. So people felt that they weren’t equipped for this, because when they did share their own particular cultural learnings or teachings or their background, it wasn’t understood, it wasn’t valued and sometimes it was criticized.

Sharon feels it’s about what people’s life circumstances are like. So for instance, many black social work students have to continue to work. They can’t wait to take time off. There aren’t any bursaries until the second and third year, so the very first year they don’t have money even if they may have caring responsibilities, family responsibilities. So to conclude social work students have a difficult time especially those from black backgrounds.

You can find more about Sharon’s talk via her Youtube discussion.

Emma James from Barnardo’s presents on BAME young carers

Emma from Barnardo’s started her discussion on questioning on the importance the lives of all children and young people who should be free from poverty, abuse and discrimination. Emma mentioned that young carers are part of the millions of unpaid carers in the UK providing care and support for a relative. Some young carers take on their caregiving responsibilities as young as four years old. Others do over 30 hours of caring a week and on top of attending school or college. Emma stated that firsthand the impact caring has on their mental health and well-being is staggering with many suffering from depression, isolation and anxiety. So the children Barnaro’s work with and many others across the country are sacrificing their childhoods and their futures. All this by having no choice but to drop out of school or actively choosing not to go to university or college due to their caring responsibilities.

Emma also pointed out that the BBC did a survey a couple of years ago, which estimated that there are probably over 800,000 young carers in the UK today. So Barnardo’s runs 20 services across the UK that support young young people care for relatives who have a disability or illness mental health condition or drug or alcohol problem. Last year, Barnardo’s worked with 330 500 young carers and their families. Barnardo’s also support many other children and young people in their services who also have caring responsibilities. So in Barnardo’s mental health services they run domestic abuse support services, which will often uncover if these children also Young carers.

Around five years ago Emma did an indepth research with the young carers they support and found that the impact the caring was having on their lives was really significant. The young carers Barnardo’s supports often spent over 20 hours a week caring for their relatives, most commonly their mothers, they often care for siblings as well as parents. These sorts of things Emma found they were doing was cooking, cleaning, administering medication, washing, shopping, helping the cost of siblings providing mental health support.

Banardos campaigned in 2014 around Children and Families Act in the Care Act, which gave local authorities a duty to assess young carers. So this led to more referrals for young carers, but often there isn’t the support once young carers are assessed. There’s often waiting lists for support and in terms of outcomes for young carers, they’re more likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET), they’re more likely to be bullied at schools and more likely to have poor mental health, loneliness and isolation. Young carers end up with lower grades in school, and they’re more likely to come from BAME communities. Whilst Emma was doing her research across all of their young carers services, it was really clear something that stood out for her, this was that young carers from minority communities had additional pressures and stresses that statutory services were not aware of and they weren’t being supported.

The most important thing that Barnardos do is they help the family get more support from social services so that young carers don’t have to do so much supportive work. Barnardos talk to young carers school so teachers understand their situation and can be supportive. Plus Barnardo’s give young carers advice and emotional support through counseling sessions.

Here is a link to one of Barnardo’s reports on BAME young carers.

BAME young carers update

Keisha York from BAME in Psychiatry & Psychology presents

Keisha York the founder and director of BAME in Psychiatry & Psychology network (BiPPN) wanted to say is it’s been a pleasure, to be invited to my forum again. She was interested just to hear a lot about how BAME carers and the sort of difficulties carers are experiencing. Keisha was just going to focus on providing updates about what the BIPP network is doing and what they would loved to do. Keisha felt that in hindsight and listening to the group, she would have wanted to give some more data and statistics on some of the issues raised on the colonization of the curriculum or representation, but Keisha felt that might be perhaps a part two or part three, because this is the second time they have been invited to my BAME carers forum.

The BiPPN are a registered social enterprise and low profit organization since September 2019, and they are led by mental health professionals and students in medicine in psychology, who aim to prioritize, lots of representation of black psychology. The BiPPN also provide such a community for individuals from racialized backgrounds, both registered and prospective mentor professionals to acquire social, emotional, psychological and developmental support. Whilst the BiPPN do focus on psychiatry and psychology, they do recognize that actually, this has been a really good source of support space and community for anyone who is a mental health professional. So the BiPPN encourage anyone really to join our network and be a part of it and attend the events that they do. So how do the BiPPN achieve this aim of prioritizing and advancing the representation of racialized groups in those professions?

The BIPPN provide insight, guidance and knowledge on access in psychiatry and psychology. The BiPPN focus on this primarily because they are aware of the issues. Keisha feels as someone mentioned earlier, these issues have been discussed for years around what are the barriers to individuals accessing these careers (Sharon’s presentation on the problems BAME students face studying sociology).

The BiPPN want to learn and focus on how they can equip these aspiring psychologists with the skills to actually navigate through those barriers, and actually be more equipped to address some of them as they progress in their careers. The BiPPN also increase the exposure to learning and discussion of cross cultural and race related psychological theory practices and research.

Keisha is aware about colonized curriculum that only addresses the mental health of white Eurocentric individuals. So what the BiPPN aims to do is increase the exposure of models, approaches and theories which relate more to how black and racialized groups experience the world as reality, plus how they suffer from mental health issues. Lastly, the BiPPN explores the various approaches to addressing black and ethnic monetize groups in mental health and racial disparities and mental health care. So the BiPPN events are attended and are hosted by a range of speakers, both psychiatrists and psychologists. The BiPPN increase exposure to that knowledge to either aspiring or current practitioners. So they know how to address this within the NHS and in their various workforces.

For more information about the BiPPN please see link below.

BiPPN Network website

This concludes the BAME mental health carer forum update for June

Young Carers Action day 2021

Welcome back to another Blog post from Matthew Mckenzie, unpaid carer over in South London, author, activist on my projects called a caring mind.

This Blog post supports the national carer charity – Carers Trust – Young Carers action day for March 16th 2021, but why is it so important young carers get such recognition or even an event to highlight their caring role?

Basically, Young Carers Action Day is an annual event led by Carers Trust. It raises awareness and calls for action to increase support for young people with caring responsibilities.

To see the video of this blog see below.

For 2021, Young Carers Action day will be about Protecting Young Carers’ Futures and making sure that all young and young adult carers get the support they need to go after their dreams.

As a young carer myself…all those years ago, I never gave it a second thought what future I could possibly have, I just kept doing what I was doing, providing care and support. Now with the strain on how schools, health and social care services, it is now even more important to raise that awareness for young carers and also get young carers involved to tell their story and give them the chance and confidence to campaign on what they want for the future.

When young carers think about their future, they think about developing their skills, about what they want to do in their career, their dreams and aspirations. Caring for those you love or support is an honorable role, but it should not define our future and should not hold people back.

With support from schools, carer centres and those who can help make change. Young carers are encouraged to campaign, make a statement and help raise awareness about young carers, especially in schools. Not everyone in schools or colleges can identify or are even aware of young people who provide unpaid care. We have young carers helping or spending large amounts of time looking after someone, which could be helping to keep that person clean, cooking food and cleaning, advocating and being there for that person. All this takes time and energy and we should recognize the added strain facing young carers…..it should be about action and keeping that awareness going.

Carers trust a national charity focusing on making a better future for carers young and old have a wealth of resources for those especially young carers wanting to campaign.

These being

  • Creating a Young Carer Skills Journal
  • Campaign Packs with logos
  • Young Carers Action Day posters
  • and even just to find out more information about Young carers action day.

Please check out their site on https://carers.org/young-carers-action-day-2021

Its important we as a community and society help give power for young carers to help shape and protect there futures…..they deserve it

Young carers awareness day 2020

106542Thanks for stopping by. This is a blog post based on raising more awareness for many young carers around the country. This is that at the time of posting this blog post, it is young carers awareness day. Now I am not a young carer myself, but I did provide care and support to my brothers when I was much younger. They both have autism and every so often I still provide support for my brothers, because being in someones life should be a family commitment.

Young carers awareness day

So whats it all about then? Why the need for young carers awareness day? I mean, aren’t young people not given that support already from somewhere? Is it someone else’s responsibility? Well I will come on to that in a moment, but for now I want to put a spot light on young carers who do their best to care for someone. The main reason I am throwing my chips in on this is that its not common for young carers to write, blog, speak and raise that awareness themselves. Heck! many young carers do not even know they are young carers so they often miss out on support.

Young carers awareness day runs every year and is driven by a national charity called ‘Carers Trust’. Taken from Carers Trust’s website ” For many, their caring journey begins at a much younger age. Caring for someone can be very isolating, worrying and stressful. For young carers, this can negatively impact on their experiences and outcomes in education, having a lasting effect on their life chances.”

Basic CMYK

I touched briefly on the importance of raising awareness for young carers day, but there is much more to it than just raising awareness. Young people even if not caring still struggle in getting support for many things, this is doubled or tripled for young carers who can unfortunately fall through the system. I hope that those in authority take note of young carers awareness day and help make its aim come to life.

Still, we can only learn so much from the idea of young carers awareness, I think a small story can show so much more to the situation young carers face up and down this country.

A small story

Let me tell you a small story, this story is not based on any living person, but the experiences are very real and they are very hard. I would like to warn you this story pulls no punches, but to get the message across, we sometimes have to point out the painful stories.

My story starts with a young boy, so full of energy, wonder and excitement. His life ahead of him as he notices from his friends at school. His name is Sam. A simple young boy and he was well raised by his mother, she cared for him and she loved him. There was never any issue of the close bonds in the family. His mother had recently divorced from her husband, but she fought on and raised their only son.

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It was as if only yesterday, Sam’s mind wandered back to this unfortunately incident. Sam remember he was just around 8 years old, when he came home from school. He suddenly noticed when he got in, the house was so dark, like all the lights were off. Sam called out to his mother, but no reply came from her. Sam remembered that he walked into the kitchen to get something to eat. The family was struggling as many families low in the income gap tend struggle. Sam was just reaching for a plate out of the cupboard and he spotted his mother sitting on the kitchen floor. Sam asked if she was ok, but after a while she responded, but not directly looking at Sam at all. She slowly replied that she was ok.

Sam did not know what else to say, but he then took his mother by the hand and led her to the living room and turned on the TV. His mother slowly sat down on the sofa and then looked at her young son. Her precious only child. Her eyes seem almost empty of life, but she spoke to Sam, she stroked his hair softly and said that she loved him. Sam’s mother watched the TV and sat there for hours. Sam remembered this so well, he was so confused he never saw his mother act like this before. What was wrong? What could he do?

The next day after Sam came from school, everything seemed different. His mother was well again as if nothing happened the day before. She seemed energetic, and she even asked Sam about his day at school. Sam seemed much happier that his mother was more responsive. However when parent evening came about at the local school, Sam’s mother acted rather strangely when speaking to teachers about her son’s progress at school. Sam was with his mother, but Sam’s mother was struggling to concentrate on what the teachers were saying. Sam panicked, because his school friends were watching. Sam could hear the whispers from his friends. “Sam’s mother is a wierdo! Whats wrong with her”?

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The next day at school, Sam could not be bothered to go in. He was too scared, too ashamed what people might say. Why was his mother acting this way? He played truant and just spent time siting in the park, wondering why his life was giving him such a hard time. He just could not understand, but if there was anything to come out of this. He loved his mother dearly.

The next day Sam’s mother was so unwell, she was asking Sam to do more and more around the house. Sam’s mother seemed to lack energy, she just could not do anything for herself. Sam did the best that he could. Yes, for certain days, Sam’s mother was ok, but things seem to be getting worse. Sam’s mother just sat there, as if not to care. She could not often dress herself, wash and instead Sam slowly took over. He asked his mother if she needed help and he started to cook, shop and clean. All this began taking its toil as Sam’s school work began to suffer.

The school was sending reports to Sam’s mother and soon a phone call came, Sam remembered this as if it was yesterday. He remember how his mother was pleading and saying that she is ok and that there was no problem. Sam wondered why his mother was upset and who she was speaking to over the phone.

Eventually days turned into weeks, weeks to months and then to years. Sam got older, from aged 9…10 and 11. Sam never gave up, he got older, tougher, wiser and even then after all the bullying, insults, stigma and tireless work. He continue supporting his mother. When someone at school asked if he was a carer, Sam did not know what this meant. He just loved his mother, thats all what he wanted.

Sam is now 22 years old. He is sitting in the street watching the people go by, oblivious to Sam’s plight. Sam does not hear much from his mother anymore. His mother has changed and it seemed she has succumbed to something. Sam’s mother can hardly speak much and when she does, its like a mumble, it does not make sense. A cold tear drops from Sam’s face, he wonders what he has missed out on in his life.

“God damn this world!” Sam thinks, as he sits on the floor struggling with his on mental health. “My mother, my life….whats next?”

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Sam begins to finally know what a young carer is….unfortunately for Sam it has come to late and perhaps he is just another statistic among many young carers.

What can we learn from this story?

I hope you found my small story eye opening. I know the story was not meant to be easy, but I know somewhere out there, there are many Sam’s who feel bitter about their situation. What can we learn from this story? We can learn quite a few things.

  • Sam had to grow up very quickly.
  • Sam’s mother certainly had mental illness, but no one knew the diagnoses
  • Sam took on the role of caring for his mother, even when he was not sure how to care for himself.
  • Sam’s own roles and duties suffered, especially his education
  • Sam lost many of his friends, as children they could not understand Sam’s plight….it was all a game.
  • What ever affected the family, eventually affected Sam’s future. Sam felt bitter about things as he feel into the grey area of carer support through his late teens.
  • Sam’s mother was terrified of social services. She felt they would take Sam away from her, Sam’s mother just needed that extra support, but many social workers had been moved on. There was now a lack of them, since heavy and sustained cuts removed important support for Sam’s family.
  • The health service seemed missing from this story, health support not only for Sam’s mother, but for Sam himself as depression, stress and anxiety slowly crept into Sams experience.  Sam did not feel empowered about his experiences.

So then. What next? Who is picking up the pieces? We are, but we have Carers Trust. A national charity fighting so hard to speak for young carers and engaging with young carers to speak for themselves. If nothing is done, young carers pay that heavy price. Young carers lose out on what many young children and young people take for granted. Young carers lose their enjoyment in life, they cannot be children anymore and have no time to play, have fun and feel part of the community.

I have noticed many carer centre’s run young carer groups and I see how happy young carers feel connected to other young carers at these groups. Still, Carers Trust is a charity as many of the carer centres are charities. We spend a lot of time banging that drum for awareness, funding and activism. Carers Trust need more to help with awareness and help with young carers.

A small warning.

I am not sure if there was a theme for young carers awareness day, I am sure there is, but I have just come back from an exciting Triangle of Care working group over at West London MH trust. I am writing this so quickly I hope there are not too many typos and I hope my blog post makes sense.

There is just one thing I would like to say. This blog post is just a warning. We must act now to protect the next generation as social care has a mountain to climb. Whoever is reading my post and is in a position to make a change, however small. We must reduce the situation faced by many young carers across the country. So that we do not have to see more stories of Sam and how his life turned out.

God bless you all and good luck on your carers journey, however young you are.