What is a young carer?
A young carer is a young person, under the age 25, who cares for a family member, and takes on responsibilities within the family home beyond their years.
What is a young carer?
What is a young carer? Young carers are children and young people between the ages of 5 and 18 who have a significant caring role for a family member.
This is usually parents or siblings and can be due to life limiting illness, disability, mental health condition or substance misuse.
We sometimes describe young carers in terms of a role reversal- young people taking on adult roles, cooking, cleaning, administering medication, personal care, taking care of siblings and emotional support.
Young carers are often hidden and do not receive the help and support they need.
What do young carers do?
The caring responsibilities of a child are often wide ranging and can include a number of things that the adult may usually do within the home, and beyond.
- Practical help: this can include cooking, cleaning, shopping for necessities and generally maintaining the home
- Physical care: providing physical help for family members
- Emotional support: providing support that may include helping siblings with issues or dealing with distress experienced by adults
- Support with accessing financial assistance: benefits, grants, applications use of our fundraising and charitable receipts
- Personal care: helping an adult or child to maintain a standard of hygiene and helping them to dress
- Childcare: looking after younger children within the home, and perhaps taking them out on trips to the park or on walks, as well as taking or collecting children from school.
- Finances: making financial decisions and managing the family's budget so bills are paid on time, and money stretches to provide necessities
This list is non-exhaustive and every young carer's role within the family and the home will be unique to the individual.
Impact of being a young carer
The impact of being a young carer can have a huge toll on a young person’s health and wellbeing. There were 127,000 young carers identified in the 2021 census, but it is believed that there may be closer to 1 million young carers in the UK, and many will not be getting any support.
The impact on young carers can be broad, effecting their physical and emotional health. They can also feel isolated and are more likely to experience bullying.
Approximately 60% of young carers are believed to have been bullied.
Further challenges can exist around restricted social opportunities and they may struggle in school. Just being part of a young carers service where young people feel understood and have a voice can increase resilience and confidence, which is why it is important that young carers receive the support they need to balance the huge amount of responsibility they undertake.