The theme of this month’s Carers Week is ‘Recognising and supporting carers in the community.’ Westbank currently supports around 2,700 children and teenagers with caring responsibilities - and would like to reach even more

“Carers Week in June helps shine a spotlight on Devon’s 75,000+ adult carers, but people often aren’t aware of how many children and teenagers have caring responsibilities at home. In fact, it’s estimated there are 2 - 3 young carers in every classroom. 

Devon Young Carers is a service provided under the umbrella of local charity Westbank Community Health and Care to support young people across Devon who help look after parents or siblings with an illness or disability. We work with children from as young as four and continue to support teenage carers up to the age of eighteen, as they transition into adulthood. 

Like adult carers, the unpaid role of these young people helps prop up the NHS and Social Care system, but sometimes they don’t get the support they badly need themselves - and we’d like to change that.  

We would like every young person in Devon to know that Devon Young Carers exists for them if and when they need it. That’s why we ask schools to begin conversations with students across their year groups to reduce the possible stigma associated with seeking help. 

A caring role can emerge gradually, or be thrust upon a young person quickly if a parent has an accident or develops a sudden illness. When this happens, there are huge financial implications for families that can add another layer of stress and anxiety to an already challenging situation.

So, what do we do and what support can we give? The starting point for every young carer is a holistic assessment of their individual needs. These assessments are usually carried out in person at school; some are conducted online if the young person prefers that. 

The assessments lead to differing levels of support - from specialist, individualised information and advice for them, their families and other professionals working with them; to the provision of a limited range of activities to give them a break from their caring role, and also help to access such activities within their community. The highest level of support enables them to access one-to-one intervention with a lead practitioner to examine what they would like to change in their life and how we can help.

Our small contract with Devon County Council funds a compact team who identify and support young carers within Exeter, and in the north, south and east of the county. We supplement our income with fundraising.  

We rely on voluntary donations for all our residential trips. Two groups of young carers in different age groups have recently enjoyed residentials at East Shallowford Farm on Dartmoor through the MoorCommunity Project with Dartmoor National Park Authority - camping out, going on country walks and taking part in a range of farm and campsite activities. Residentials can be a life-changing experience for young carers as it’s often their first time away for a couple of nights, giving them time to relax and make new friendships without shouldering adult caring responsibilities.”

If you’d like to find out more about Young Carers, visit or to support or donate to any of the services provided by Westbank, go to

Article from The Moorlander newspaper