A new report by Carers Trust and Carers Lewisham released today shows that young carers aged 5-8 are amongst the most hidden and least supported group of unpaid carers in the UK.

The report, ‘Supporting Young Carers aged 5-8’ found that infant carers – young carers under eight years old - are often unsupported because no-one expects them to be taking on adult responsibilities. Support services aimed at young carers often only start from age eight.

The 2011 census found that there were nearly 10,000 young carers aged 5-7 in England and Wales up 83% in ten years. This is the tip of the iceberg as a BBC survey estimates that there are 700,000 young carers in the UK.

Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive of Carers Trust comments: “It is shocking that children as young as five are caring for a family member. This has a huge impact on their education and means that they are missing out on their childhood. Urgent action must be taken now to support this vulnerable group.”

The Children and Families Act 2014 now gives all young carers in England a right to an assessment of their own needs, no matter how much caring they do. This means that it is the responsibility of local authorities to ensure they are identifying and supporting young carers.

According the 2011 census 10 percent of young carers aged 5-17 in the UK are caring for between 20 and 49 hours a week and 8.8 percent are caring for more than 50 hours.

Many young carers struggle to juggle their education and caring which can cause pressure and stress. Carers Trust have also found that:

A survey of 350 young carers found 48% said being a young carer made them feel stressed and 44% said it made them feel tired;

80% of young carers say they miss out on what other children their age are doing because of their caring role .

The report features Carers Trust Network Partner Carers Lewisham, one of the few services in the UK that offers support for infant carers and shows how working collaboratively with other agencies they have been able to raise awareness of this vulnerable group pf carers, identify them and support them and their families.