Young carers and care workers on the night shift need our support | Letters

Lesley Legge raises the plight of young carers, Alison Middleton and Austen Lynch defend sleep-in carers

Your article points to the degree to which the work and sacrifices of adult carers are taken for granted by the state (Number of unpaid family carers up by a million in 10 years, 16 July), but makes no mention of the work and sacrifice of young carers who also undertake sometimes harrowing support care for family members. The support for these vulnerable young people is provided overwhelmingly by charities, where they exist. They are at the whim of a postcode lottery, with seemingly a complete absence of any form of government support for young carers made worse by their cutting of grants to local government.

The support of more than 550 of these young people in southern Oxfordshire relies on a charity that provides them with respite care on day trips and activities where they can be themselves with others who understand, emotional support away from their caring obligations, and the ability to share problems with others. Teachers and others with whom they are in daily contact often have no idea that the child who is sleepy in class has been up half the night helping to care for a sibling or other family member or lying awake worrying what the next day will bring. It is estimated that every classroom contains at least two children who are young carers. More young carers are registering with us every week. So let’s not forget the needs of these young folk when we calculate just how much we need to spend on making the system fairer for all ages.
Lesley Legge
Trustee, Be Free Young Carers

• As a care worker, I appreciate Polly Toynbee’s outrage on behalf of night care workers who are now denied a decent wage for sleep-in duties, due to the recent ruling by the court of appeal (Opinion, 17 July).

An even more serious threat to the welfare of the of both the recipients and providers of care may be looming on the horizon. Domiciliary care is now mainly provided through private care agencies, rather than local authorities. These agencies charge a hefty fee for their services on top of the care workers’ wages, leaving the elderly and their families struggling to meet the costs. This is a sector ripe for exploitation by the gig economy.
Alison Middleton
Hove

• A court of appeal deems that care workers “sleeping” in for night shifts are no longer to be described as “working” but rather as being “available for work”. What? In the way that fire crews staffing a fire station are not “working” or armed-service personnel not actually engaged in fighting enemy combatants are “available for work”?
Austen Lynch
Garstang, Lancashire

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Letters

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
‘Unseen teens’ need targeted and coordinated support | Letter
Letter: Leaders of 13 charities call for government action to help vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds who fall through the cracks between children’s and adults’ services

Letters

28, Apr, 2019 @3:19 PM

Article image
At 93, I am still my son’s sole carer | Letter
Letter: Despite having severe health problems of her own, Barbara MacArthur cares for her disabled adult son without help, and feels abandoned by the UK’s broken care system

Letters

29, Jul, 2020 @5:20 PM

Article image
Helping young people leaving care | Letters
Letters: Daniel Lavelle’s account of how he tried to track down the people from his children’s home inspired responses from Prof Mike Stein, Jill Sheldrake and Jonathan Stanley

Letters

27, May, 2018 @3:49 PM

Article image
Life-changing messages for people with dementia | Letters
Letters: We must challenge the rhetoric that describes those living with dementia as no longer themselves, says Roger Clough. Plus letters from Nori Graham, Jim Cosgrove and Barbara Deering

Letters

21, Aug, 2019 @4:08 PM

Letters: Taking care of carers and care workers
Letters: As a full-time carer and partner of someone with mental health issues, I found Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett's article deeply moving

28, Aug, 2013 @8:00 PM

Article image
Give care workers a bonus this year | Letter
Letter: Mike Padgham, the chair of Independent Care Group, on the debt we owe social care staff and frontline workers, and his hopes for reform of the sector

Letters

21, Dec, 2020 @5:19 PM

Article image
Care workers left unfairly exposed to coronavirus | Letters
Letters: Chris Ball on why the potential for spreading coronavirus in the domiciliary care sector is huge, Frank Newhofer on an aspect of testing that needs to be addressed urgently, and Elizabeth Pearson on why she does not want meal vouchers

Letters

13, Jul, 2020 @4:09 PM

Article image
We need to protect all frontline workers
Letters: A mental health support worker on looking after patients without proper PPE and two parents concerned for their social worker and care worker children. Plus Will Gelson asks us to remember all healthcare professionals putting their lives at risk

Letters

05, Apr, 2020 @5:14 PM

Article image
Inadequate payments to bereaved families and care workers | Letters
Letters: Prof David Humphreys says the payment announced for bereaved families is just a token gesture, while Fiona Murrell says care home staff need to be given better sick pay

Letters

29, Apr, 2020 @5:50 PM

Article image
Where we went wrong in care for the vulnerable | Letters
Letters: Alan Walker on how patriarchy underpins the gendered division of labour in care work, Emily Norton on the stress that carers are under, Trevor Smith on how listening can be more effective than pain relief. Plus a letter from Jeremy Beecham

Letters

16, Oct, 2020 @3:54 PM