A young carer may also care for their brother(s) or sister(s), maybe because one or both parents is no longer around. Even if another adult is living in the household, the young person may still be the main carer.
What care do young carers provide?
Young carers provide physical care, washing and other personal hygiene, giving medication, lifting, cooking, housework, shopping and budgeting. They may also provide emotional care through support for depression.
Young carers can fail to achieve at school through missed time and may leave school with few or no qualifications. Many young carers experience emotional problems and can be bullied at school. Young carers can experience isolation and loneliness. They may be cautious about asking for help and too ashamed to talk to professionals about the family's situation. Some young carers experience health problems such as lifting-related injuries, tiredness and stress.
The 2001 census estimated that there are 175,000 young carers aged under 18 in the UK. Many professionals believe this there are actually many more young carers.
Research by Loughborough University found that the average age of young carers is 12. However, they can be as young as five.
A young carer may:
- act much older than their age
- often be late for school
- under- or over-achieve at school
- suffer depression or tiredness
- often be absent from school
- not take part in extra activities outside school hours
- be reluctant to talk about home life
- have a parent who often misses appointments
- need to regularly use a telephone during school hours
- need to regularly leave school grounds during breaks
Listen carefully and believe the child's experience. It is important to acknowledge the young persons contributions and give appropriate support, information and choices. Above all, you should respect the individual's wishes and need for privacy and confidentiality.
If you are a young carer in need of help and support you should turn to someone you trust such as family member or friend, your teacher or doctor. Alternatively, the young carers service (details below) can provide support, many children’s services departments can also provide help and support to young carers.
You should contact your GP or local children’s services department or the young carers service (details below)
The Young Carers Service
The Young Carer’s Service provide a range of services to young carers, including days out, counselling and 1:1 support, a regular newsletter and attendance at the annual Young Carers Camp.
You contact this service using the details below;
Freephone 0800 0388 885 | Office 01761 431388 |Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carers' Centre Bath and North East Somerset
NE Somerset Carers' Centre
1 Riverside Cottages,
Or Bath Carers' Centre
Lower Bristol Road,
You can also click on this link to access the Carer's Centre Bath and North East Somerset website.
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers’ website has an online chatroom and message board especially for young carers, plus help and advice.
At the Children’s Society’s Young Carers’ Initiative website you can find one of its young carers projects and get help and information.
Telephone: 020 7841 4400
ChildLine is a free 24-hour helpline for children. Telephone: 0800 1111
The NSPCC’s free 24-hour helpline gives information and advice. Telephone: 0808 800 5000
The Samaritans have people to talk to 24 hours a day. Telephone: 08457 909090
Youth Access has a directory of advice and counselling services in your area. Telephone: 020 8772 9900 (9am-1pm and 2pm-5pm, Monday to Friday)
If you’re worried about asking for help, ask someone you trust, like your doctor or a friend’s mum or dad, to get in touch for you.
Useful links for professionals:
Carers UK, which campaigns for carers’ rights, has useful policy and practice and news resources.
The Children’s Society’s Young Carers Initiative website has a variety of useful research and other links.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation publishes research on a wide range of social issues, including young carers.
Loughborough University’s Young Carers Research Group publishes a range of research.
Teachernet has useful information on recognising and supporting young carers.