Too young to care? Manchester primary school children given extra support to stop suffering in silence

By Rebecca Pocklington

Manchester primary schools are stepping up to raise awareness of young carers in the city and the support needed for them.

Manchester City Council carried out surveys throughout 2011 to measure how effective their initiatives to involve schools have been.

In September 2011, a survey showed that most secondary schools across Manchester had named contact with key responsibilities for young carers.

Following this trend, in April 2012, another survey showed how 89% of primary schools had a named member of staff responsible for young carers.

Alongside this step up with schools, online forums have aimed to integrate more young carers and inform them of their available options.

Nat O’Brien, Operations Manager of Manchester Carers Forum, said: “Around three years ago a tender was released for a city-wide service for young carers.

This is now in existence in the form of Family Action in Manchester, which aims to help provide the necessary support for young carers who may not realise they even need it.

A spokeswoman for Manchester’s Family Action Young Carer’s service, said: “We focus our attention on schools and part of our service is to talk to them on behalf of young carers, as a lot of them don’t even know they are them yet.

“A lot of families won’t want to disclose this about themselves.”

Manchester City Council aimed to target parents as well to make them aware of an acceptable amount of care a young person should give, and when to seek help.

Family Action provides specialised leaflets for young carers, parents and professionals, to make sure each individual can find the help they need.

They added: “We go to adult services as well, in fact anywhere that will listen. The more people that know about it will pass it on.”

Yesterday a play in the town hall saw eight of the nine forum members taking part in five-six sketches, providing an outlet for young carers to have fun away from their everyday duties at home.

Coronation Street, star Jenny McAlpine, signed autographs for the children, with stalls throughout the event.

Mr O’Brien said: “We feel that there is a gap in the transition from 17 or so to adult, when people are going through college, who want to go to university but do not want to leave their family member un-cared for.”

The forum therefore aims to help these people in particular, to receive the necessary support they need to be able to live their own lives too.

Spokeswoman for Family Action in Manchester said: “We have raised awareness over the last few months through training events and going in to schools.

Some examples of how schools have helped is by appointing a specific member of staff, as many have done, or simply making leaflets easily accessible to young people who may not wish to come forward as publicly.

“I do think that the awareness has increased over the last eight years,” said Mr O’Brien.

“It is certainly not perfect but it is definitely improving.”

Manchester City Council intends to have a revised strategy completed by September this year to set out plans to improve support for young carers.

For more information on the forum, visit

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