Young carers in call for shops to do more to help them during pandemic

Young carer Abby Stranks, who wants supermarkets to do more to help people looking after vulnerable

Young carer Abby Stranks, who wants supermarkets to do more to help people looking after vulnerable loved ones. Pic: Abby Stranks - Credit: Abby Stranks

A young carer, who has been shopping for her isolating father during coronavirus lockdown, has called on supermarkets and stores to back a campaign to help people like her.

Retailers are urged to support young carers by displaying posters and allowing them access to shopping slots for vulnerable people, through Norfolk County Council’s Heroes At Home campaign.

It is estimated more than 11,000 children and young people in Norfolk are carers, helping look after or support a family member or friend who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have put extra pressure on such carers, with some shopping for loved ones who cannot go out.

Carers Matter Norfolk, Norfolk Young Carers Forum, Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership, want shops to let young carers use priority shopping times and to display the Heroes at Home Norfolk poster to raise awareness.

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One such carer is teenager Abby Strank, from Great Yarmouth. She cares for her father, who has lung disease, diabetes, previous heart issues and back problems and has been self-isolating.

Her mother is a key worker, so Abby has helped get essentials from shops, sometimes with her mum and sometimes alone. But she says some supermarket staff said, because Abby was not a young child, she could not go in with her mother, even though they were doing big shops for her father.

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And when she has gone alone, she says people have given the impression of judging her for being in the store.

She said: ”I think it’s really important to raise awareness of young carers, who are not visible at the moment, and not getting any support.

“They need to see from supermarkets that there is support available. But it is also really important for supermarket staff to know young carers may be in the store because they have someone vulnerable at home who needs help. Young carers may also be there helping another parent because they can’t always do lots of trips to the supermarket.”

Stores can be recognised as carer friendly, through Caring Together’s free Carer Friendly Tick scheme by e-mailing for details.

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