Q1: What help can be offered when we’ve finished young carers?
The first thing to do is join our Action for Carers 18-24 Project. We help young adults understand what services are available and we help you to connect with each other.
We aren’t able to look at your situation in depth. For 1:1 help, there are 10 independent Carer Support Organisations that help all adult carers - so that’s anyone over 18 up to 102 or whatever that may be. You need to contact the organisation that covers your address. (See ‘Be Informed’ pg.32)
Carer Support Workers can contact the right people for you - they do a lot of chasing up. They would never take over and say “leave that to us”. But if you don’t know who to phone or sometimes have tried and tried and your calls are never returned, ask your Carer Support Worker for help. So when you’re 18, you can say to a Carer Support Worker, “This isn’t happening for me” and see what they can do.
The other thing Carer Support Workers can help you with is benefits - such as carers allowance and problems with Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
If you want to make suggestions about how your local carer support organisation can do more to help 18-24s, just contact them.
Q2: Can I get money to go to college?
It depends on individual circumstances: your age, what you want to study, and what you’ve already done. It’s never too late to go back to education, especially if you’ve underachieved for any reason.
It’s a good idea to go for it before you’re 24 because lots of courses are still free. For college funding, always go to the college student service and ask for someone to look at your situation.
There may be grants for carers. Sometimes small amounts of funding can be found from a number of places which all add up. This isn’t just for academic courses; it could be to learn something just for the pleasure of it.
Unfortunately, carer funding can’t really stretch to university fees! Student Finance on the government website www.gov.uk is the place to look into that.
If there’s something you want to learn, ask Action for Carers’ Learning and Work on team 01483 565874 and ask if they can help. (See ‘Be Informed’ pgs 11-17)
Q3: What can I do if I’m getting in trouble at work for being late?
Hopefully, you’ll have a rapport with someone like your line manager who you can talk to. You don’t have to divulge to everybody that you’re a carer, but it’s good to have a person you feel comfortable with at work so there’s someone you can chat to sometimes. If it’s becoming a period where the person you are caring for is unwell and that is stressing you because you don’t know how you’re going to fit it all in - you can air your point of view to that manager and see if you can come up with a solution. It’s all about communication and finding a solution.
For example, you could suggest changing your hours for a trial period. Or you could suggest starting an hour later each day and discuss how that would affect your pay - or how you could make up the time.
Basically, don’t let it get to the boiling point. If you just let it boil for too long because you don’t know who to chat to about it at work, then it might just boil and boil until one day you explode and walk out of that job. You don’t want to get to that point where you’ve just had enough.
Contact Action for Carers Surrey - Young Adult Carers on 01483 568269 – and they can help you with ideas to work through how to put things to your boss.
Q4: I get frustrated and angry sometimes with the person I’m helping - who can help me?
The first thing to acknowledge is that it’s normal to be angry and upset. Considering the stress of caring - it’s quite a normal reaction. People get scared of that reaction. You go through many different emotions if you care for somebody.
In a caring role it’s important to be very aware of how you’re feeling and to look after you own emotions. It’s good if you talk to someone.
You can connect with people your age by joining the Surrey YAC Social Group – a Secret Facebook Group. No one but members can see the postings. To join, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s also online support for 16-24 year old carers offered by Carers Trust at www.youngercarersmatter.org
It can be hard to speak to people you don’t know, because you can be frightened of what others might think. Local Carer Support Workers will listen and understand. They encourage people to ring and talk to them. They have support groups and find there’s a real need to be able to talk about being frustrated or angry or upset with the person they care for. (See Be Informed page 32).
Q5: If my relationship with the person I care for breaks down, who can I talk to help repair the relationship?
Carer Support Workers can help informally. That could be to act as a referee or trying to help people communicate with each other – that’s something they have a lot of experience doing. They can talk to each of you separately or as a family. They don’t exactly take sides, but if they’re on anyone’s side it’s yours as a carer. (See ‘Be Informed’ pg.32)
If the person you look after sees an NHS psychiatrist for mental health problems, there is a possibility of family work or other ways of getting help from the NHS team. They want to maintain healthy relationships if possible. If it’s not possible, they should help you cope with whatever is going on. Even if they can’t share information with you, they will listen to what you have to say.
Q6: Is there any way carers can have higher priority to get counselling?
It’s such a hard task to have on a young person’s shoulders you need to get help as soon as you can.
This is going to depend on your GP understanding your situation. You may need to explain in some detail the stressful life you lead – don’t expect this to be automatically understood.
There are free services for young people that you can get without seeing your GP first.
If you’ve found a counsellor you would like to see privately, there could be funding to help with that. Carer Support Organisations can explain the different types of counsellors and how it works.
(See ‘Be Informed’ pgs. 26-29, 32)
Q7: If I’m a carer but need care myself, what is there to help me? My mum’s ill but so am I, and I’m finding it hard to care for my mum, so what is available to help me cope?
You can register with your GP as a carer. Make sure you explain what you do and how it affects your own health.
We hope that soon there will be health checks for carers, to make sure you aren’t neglecting your own health. You should be assertive about getting health care you need for you!
If the person you look after is being seen by an NHS psychiatrist for any kind of mental illness, those NHS teams have support workers who help carers in the family. They can help you deal with behaviour that causes problems for you at home.
Q8: What does Social Care do?
Social Care, in the first instance, supports the person you are looking after – that might involve someone to look after them at home or taking them out so you can do the things you want.
They take into account your own health and well-being, your opportunities to work, go to college or university and your opportunities to maintain family relationships and friendships.
If your education or employment is at risk – and you don’t already have Social Care help for your family - call Surrey County Council on 0300 200 1005. You should be able to go and study or work; it is your legal right not to care. The Social Care service has to respect that.
For help in accessing your right to education and employment, contact Action for Carers Learning & Work team on 01483 565874.
Q9: What happens if I contact Social Care?
As a carer, if you would like to talk to Social Care, you can request something called a Carers Needs Assessment. Don’t feel that you are begging. They HAVE to offer you that assessment and consider the needs of the whole family. A new law has just been passed that says - the needs of young people under 18 also have to be included.
The assessment is a chat. It’s about what you’re doing for the person you care for, and also about supporting you. After they’ve had that chat with you both, they will then make decisions with your family about what they can help you with… and perhaps how other partner organisations can help too.
For instance, if you’re only able to work part time and want to work more, or you’re thinking that you can’t go to university because of the person that you care for, they’d like to know about that. They’ll work with you and the person you care for to see what other kind of care arrangements would enable you to go to university or work those extra hours.
So, it all starts with honest conversations with Social Care about what you want to achieve in your life, what might be stopping you achieving that. If it’s caring that’s getting in the way, Social Care will work with your family on arrangements.
Q10: Who can I talk to in an emergency?
There are a few options here: Ring the main number for Social Care on 0300 200 1005. After 5pm and weekends it goes through to an emergency duty team so there’s always somebody there. If your family has already been in touch with them, they’ll have all the information about your situation.
There’s an NHS Mental Health Crisis Line for evenings & weekends: 0300 456 8342 or text 07717 989024.
Surrey Drug and Alcohol Care have a 24/7 service that’s for you or anyone or you know: 0808 802 5000.
If you wake up in the small hours of the morning worrying about something, Samaritans are there to listen to you 24/7, including at Christmas and New Year: 08457 90 90 90