A recent report from Barnardo’s states that BAME young carers are continuing to struggle to receive support services compared to other young carers.
BAME carers, young and otherwise, have long been understood at being at risk in their ability to access social services.
This is something Honeypot has been aware of since our conception as a charity – and there are studies over 20 years old that highlighted a lack of awareness by BAME carers as to accessible social services, as well as social services not being equipped to deal with cultural differences (Netto, 1998).
So why does this problem continue to persist? There’s more than just one reason.
The new report highlighted the following:
- Young carers are relied on often as interpreters due to a language barrier with older relatives.
- The concept of a young carer is often unfamiliar to certain BAME communities where caring for or helping your family is expected.
- There is a stigma in many BAME communities in acknowledging mental health or disability issues, and in seeking support.
- BAME families do not necessarily want official authorities involved if they are fearful their families may be split up.
Other reports in recent years have highlighted that young carers are 1.5 times more likely to be from BAME households and are twice as likely not to speak English as their first language (Children’s Society, 2013), and that people in marginalised groups including BAME families are at greater risk of mental health problems (NHS, 2016).
“Many young carers already go unidentified, and BAME young carers are particularly at risk,” says Simmi Woodwal, Chief Executive at the Honeypot Children’s Charity. “That this has continued for so long tells us that we need to have a clear strategy about how to reach out to these young carers and offer them a culturally specific and appropriate service. This approach would have to take into consideration the stigma that they associate with accepting help from external authorities.”
How can such a longstanding problem be tackled, then?
Barnardo’s report has a number of recommendations that include:
- providing access to translators for BAME families.
- NHS and outreach groups doing more within BAME communities to destigmatise mental illness, disabilities and make families aware of support.
- employing community outreach workers.
Honeypot would also suggest reaching out to local schools and places of worship to raise awareness of young carers, and to make it more acceptable to ask for help.
But most significantly, this is a case where the government and the NHS have to step up – that such a problem has persisted for so long suggests it simply hasn’t been granted enough focus by authorities. Numerous reports have been published about this issue over the years and it’s clear the problems they highlight need more than just the charitable sector, who don’t have as much scale or reach.
Netto G (1998) ‘I forget myself’: the case for the provision of culturally sensitive respite services for minority ethic carers of older people, in Journal of Public Health Medicine, 20, 2 p221-226, Oxford: Oxford University Press