‘HUNDREDS’ of Barnsley children officially classed as carers who are having to support people with complex and challenging needs will receive extra support under new plans.

A ‘staggering’ amount of young carers are looking after vulnerable adults in the town, with 453 under the age of 16 being classed in the category according to the last available figures.

A total of 1,482 carers - aged between 16 and 24 - were also identified.

Barnsley Council’s ruling cabinet met last week to approve a new strategy to offer more support to unpaid carers across the borough, formed through feedback from those who are supporting vulnerable adults.

A new strategy will have a ‘strong emphasis’ on targeted prevention and early intervention with a key aim of preventing, reducing, or delaying carers needs from developing into crisis situations and requiring support from more costly interventions.

A council report said: “The amount and type of support that unpaid carers provide varies considerably. It can range from a few hours a week, such as picking up prescriptions and preparing meals, to providing emotional or personal care day and night, seven days a week.

“Our carers’ survey told us that over 50 per cent of respondents have been carrying out the role of a carer for five years or more, with ten per cent of those highlighting 20 years or more.

“One in five said they provide over 100 hours of care per week, with some describing this as a ’24/7 role’.

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“Carers play a vital role in the health and social care system, and it is widely acknowledged that they contribute significantly to making sure that the person they care for remains independent in their own home for longer.

“However, being a carer can be both rewarding and frustrating, and it can also be costly in terms of life changes, financial security and health and mental wellbeing.

“These carers need to be recognised for the difficulties they experience, respected for all they are doing, and provided with information, advice, and support to continue providing good quality care whilst also maintaining their health and wellbeing.

“The refreshed strategy sets out a vision that more unpaid carers in our community will be identified and recognised and have access to information, advice and both practical and emotional support to help them achieve the outcomes which matter most to them.”

Although the financial implications for extra support is ‘unclear’, according to the council, it is expected to surpass the £1.155m spent on supporting people in 2021/22.

Coun Trevor Cave, cabinet member for children’s services added: “Barnsley relies on its army of volunteers.

“Our carers are unpaid, often unseen, often unrecognised.

“This is an ambitious programme to try and improve the services and support that our carers need.

“There’s a staggering number of young people and children who are part of that cohort of carers in Barnsley.

“It’s not good that the national statistics are out of date when it comes to identifying the numbers of carers

“Hundreds of children in Barnsley are having to deal with and support people with complex and often challenging needs.

“We need to do more to help carers with respite and we need to do much more to ensure that safeguarding concerns are addressed both for adults and children.

“The strategy aims to recognise carers at the ‘earliest opportunity’, help carers understand their rights and have access to an assessment and be enabled to have a life outside of their caring role and be supported to work or undertake training and education opportunities if they wish to do so.”