About young carers
A young carer is someone under 18 who helps look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled, has a mental health condition or misuses drugs or alcohol.
What might a young carer do?
- Practical tasks, like cooking, housework and shopping.
- Physical care, such as helping someone out of bed.
- Emotional support, including talking to someone who is distressed.
- Personal care, such as helping someone dress.
- Managing the family budget and collecting prescriptions.
- Helping to give medicine.
- Helping someone communicate.
- Looking after brothers and sisters.
How many young carers are there?
- The 2011 Census identified 177,918 young carers in England and Wales. One in eight of those were aged under eight.
- This is widely believed to be the tip of the iceberg, with some estimates suggesting that as many as one in five schoolchildren are young carers (University of Nottingham 2018), with this number increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Being a young carer can have a big impact on the things that are important to growing up
Young carers are already likely to have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level than their peers (The Children’s Society, 2013).
The COVID-19 pandemic risks exacerbating the situation, stopping young carers from reaching their full potential.
With the added complications of COVID-19, young carers are missing even more school than before and urgent support is needed if they are not to be left behind their peers.
Caring can have a dramatic detrimental effect on the education and aspirations of young and young adult carers, so urgent support is essential.
How we support young carers
Young Carers Action Day
Young Carers Action Day is an annual event led by Carers Trust. It raises awareness and calls for action to increase support for young people with caring responsibilities. On Young Carers Action Day 2021, we are calling on all governments across the UK to commit to protect young carers’ futures so that young and young adult carers are supported to achieve their aspirations.
Specialist services for young carers
Carers Trust helps young carers to cope with their caring role through specialised services delivered by Carers Trust Network Partners across the UK. They are independent charities. Activities offered include:
- Activities and breaks.
- Peer and community support, including young carer groups and peer mentoring schemes.
- Information, advice and guidance, including one-to-one support and age appropriate information.
- Emotional support.
- Brokerage and support planning.
- Training in subjects such as health and safety, wellbeing and life skills.
- Supporting families and young carers to apply for appropriate benefits.
- Emergency planning support.
- Whole family support.
- Engaging young carers in informing service development.
I think I might be a young or young adult carer, where can I go for support?
The responsibilities of young and young adult carers vary greatly, so you may be eligible for support, even if you don’t feel like you do a lot of caring. If you think that you might be a young or young adult carer, get in touch with your local carer service. Support workers will be able to ensure that you receive the support you need.
Find your local carer service
There are also lots of organisation that can support young carers with a range of issues.