Coronavirus: Young carers ‘turned away’ from shops in lockdown

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Young carer Fayeth said she felt like she had death stares while going shopping for her family

Young carers are being shouted at and turned away from special shopping hours due to “not being believed”, a charity fears.

Charity Trust said some had been shouted at by shoppers and stopped from going into shops during the pandemic.

Fayeth, from Rhyl, cares for her mother who has epilepsy and three younger sisters.

But the 13-year-old said she felt like she got “death stares” every time she left the house.

As many as one in five young people are caring for a family member with disabilities or mental health problems in Wales, according to the charity.

As carers they are eligible to shop during special hours set aside at supermarkets and shops for the elderly and vulnerable and for carers.

But only some local authorities issue ID cards, which explain the young carers’ role, and there are concerns that a large number of shops do not accept them.

  • Young carers in Wales ‘hidden’ from schools
  • ‘I thought every child looked after their mum’

Director of the charity, Simon Hatch, said the young carers were worried enough about bringing the virus back home to their family members from the shops, without being turned away at the door.

He said staff were probably stopping them due to “not understanding” their role in being a key carer and supermarkets and shops needed training.

“We’ve also had reports of people being shouted at in the streets, when they’ve been trying to get into local shops,” he said.

“I’m sure that these are relatively rare occurrences, but it really highlights the massive challenges on top of what is already a very worrying and stressful time for them anyway.”

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Fayeth cares for her mother who has epilepsy and said people had commented when she had been in the shops buying supplies

For Fayeth the lockdown has been a worrying time, with her mother Laura having more seizures since the restrictions were introduced.

But while she is trying to care for her family, she said whenever she left the house to get shopping she felt like people were staring at her.

“Some people have made comments when I’m out shopping saying that young children shouldn’t be out of the house during this time,” she said.

“There are some shops which won’t let young people in and only allowing adults, so it can make it much harder to get any shopping.

“Some people even say you shouldn’t be out and the coronavirus is spreading and it’s my fault because I’m outside and things like that.

“But I just say I’m a young carer and I’m allowed to be out, then I walk away”.

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Ronnie Lawson’s mother Louise said he could not be “queuing for three hours” trying to get shopping for his dad

Teenager Ronnie Lawson has cared for his father who has multiple sclerosis since he was nine and also helps his mother who has problems with her spine and hips.

He said he was left “embarrassed” when he was turned away while trying to buy food for his disabled parents in Abergavenny.

Ronnie said he did not have anything to prove he was a carer, and thought staff “didn’t really believe” him as he “is a teenager”.

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Ronnie Lawson

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Ronnie said he was embarrassed because of how many elderly people were in the queue for the shops

He said he had got “looks off people wondering why I’m out”, but now had a slip from Monmouthshire council and was finding it easier to get in during special hours.

Ronnie said he was worried about the impact on younger children who were sole carers for parents, and people needed to be more understanding, as they were already scared of going to the shops.

“It’s not their fault, but there’s no point for a kid to lie about being a carer, so I think they should be more considerate,” he said.

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Rhian Watts said even with ID and proof young carers were still not being let into shops

Bridgend Carers Centre has started giving slips to its 1,400 recognised young carers to prove they are shopping for a family member.

“A lot of young carers are getting refused in retail shops, usually because of their age and some supermarkets are saying if they’re under the age of 16 they are not allowed in,” said manager Rhian Watts.

“But even with the letters we’ve been providing some are still not allowing them in.”

Ms Watts said it should not really matter who is doing the shopping for a family, and have more understanding of the risks young carers were taking.

“They are the person that needs to enter the supermarket to do the shopping and denying access will have a major impact on them and their families so it’s just about having a bit of understanding,” she said.

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