Carers Worldwide is committed to developing dedicated programmes that identify and support children and young people who are carers.
Our research shows that at least 9% of carers in India and Nepal are under 17 years of age. Many have to stop attending school completely and cease to have a social life because they need to be available for caring duties 24/7.
To overcome the lack of connection that young carers have with the outside world, we have been working with our partners on the ground in South Asia to find solutions and begin the process of reconnecting these excluded children and young people with their peers, schools and the broader community.
One solution that has been particularly successful is the creation of child carer clubs within the communities in which we operate. To promote community involvement and sustainability, we build relationships with schools to access their facilities when they are not being used. This provides a safe and dedicated space where the children can meet and connect with each other, over time becoming a familiar and welcoming environment for them to enjoy.
Volunteers from the community are trained as part of the broader Carers Worldwide programme, ensuring that they understand the unique needs and challenges facing child carers. Alongside project staff from our local partner organisations who have in-depth local knowledge, the volunteers work towards creating a supportive environment where child carers can meet others in a similar situation to themselves, talk about their experiences and concerns, play games together and socialise.
Additional tutoring is also integrated into the sessions, so that children who are struggling in the education system or are unable to leave the family home to attend school can catch up on their studies and gain valuable skills such as reading, writing and basic numeracy.
For many children, these groups offer the only opportunity to take a break from caring. This helps them to feel connected with the outside world. As a result of the emotional support that they receive their mental health can vastly improve, bringing them hope for the future as their levels of anxiety and depression reduce.
Our child carer initiatives, including child carer groups, have been the first of their kind to be implemented in low and middle-income countries. In the coming years, we hope to extend our network of support and reach many more children and young people who were previously hidden within their communities.