Young carer's awareness day 2024

boy with his father

Young carer's action day 2024: how young carer's futures are impacted by their caring role. 

There are an estimated 1 million young people caring for a family member in the UK. Spurgeons supports around 800 in Birmingham. While they play an incredible role taking care of others, young carer's lives can be significantly impacted by their responsibilities, which can then affect their careers and future. 

The support that Spurgeons' young carers receive, however, can make a huge difference to their prospects. Chloe, 17, tells us how working with Will, her key worker, has encouraged her to follow her dreams.

Chloe's exciting future 

She was 7 years old, and Will has been her key worker throughout. Through Spurgeons she has had both grief and mental health counselling and Will has helped Chloe to pursue her dream- she is starting at university this autumn to study performing arts. She hopes to entertain people and also work with those with special needs. 

'I kind of always knew that I wanted to do something that would give back to people, but I didn't know how,' she says. 'I also love performing arts, and I spoke to Will, and he was like, why don't you just put them together and do what you love but still care for people?'

Will also helped Chloe by speaking to her college about her young carer responsibilities, and got her extra time to complete tasks. He also explained to her college that she may sometimes have to arrive late, or leave to attend appointments. 

'Without Spurgeons I would have been completely lost- I feel like I'd never have got to this point with going to university,' says Chloe. 'But I've been pushed and supported and told that I can do it, and I feel like I've been given the resources to go out there and do it.'

Teresa, Chloe's mum, adds 'Will has been on every single journey with us. I think it's amazing.'

Will, Chloe's key worker holding an Easter bonnet
Will, Chloe's key worker

Exhausting lifestyles

Without the help and support of young carer support workers, young people who look after a family member can find their future prospects compromised. While an average teenager gets home from school and takes time to have fun and decompress, there is little break for young carers. A young person in a caring situation takes care of many responsibilities beyond their years, including dealing with bills, food shopping, cleaning and administering medicine to their family members. 

Reduced prospects

The knock-on effects of this are increased stress, burnout and tiredness which can then cause difficulties learning at school. Down the line this can then impact career prospects and opportunities for a young carer's future. 

Research shows that young carers are twice as likely to leave primary school below age-related expectations, and achieve poorer academic performance in the GCSE's. Those who have been young carers are nearly 40% less likely to obtain a university degree that their peers. 

Young adult carers can also find employment tricky, as they must juggle work with their responsibilities at home. Being able to travel far for work is often impossible due to being needed to care for their family member, and they may only be able to take on part-time work, excluding them from apprenticeships. Needing to miss work days can also cause problems and further stress. 

Affected mental health

The weight of the responsibilities they must handle at such a young age can cause mental health problems for some young carers. Young people who care for a family member are for more like to self-harm, and are twice as likely to attempt to take their own lives. 

Loneliness can also be a big problem. Making friends while caring for family is hard, with little time to socialise available. This can cause issues with feeling isolated and lacking the opportunity to develop important social skills. 

Some young carers also experience bullying- research found that 36% of young carers have been bullied. Bullying can erode a young carers mental health and self-confidence. 

The importance of support

Spurgeons young carers service offers young people the chance to connect and relate to others experiencing the same challenges. Our case workers offer support and assistance to young people in caring roles, providing a vital lifeline. 

They also participate in fun day and trips with their friends where they can try new activities alongside people who understand their struggles. We also offer homework support and counselling services. 

We hold group sessions with our young carers on the topics of mental health and wellbeing. Our staff also work alongside carers to help them develop strategies to manage their responsibilities.

Find out more about young carers

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