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What is a Young Carer?

Did you know there are around 700,000 young carers in the UK?

A young carer is someone under the age of 18 who has to look after someone else, such as a parent or sibling. A young carer may have to look after someone because they are sick, have mental health issues or have a disability. In some cases, young carers have to care for parents or a family member with a drug or alcohol problem.

Young carers often have more chores and responsibilities then other children may have, with caring for someone including every day activities like cooking and cleaning. It often also includes providing emotional support and personal care when a family member can’t do things for themselves, like assisting with washing and dressing.

Many young people don’t realise or class themselves as young carers, especially if they have been providing care from a young age.

If you are providing support on a regular basis, even if you are not the only one providing support, then you would be classed as a young carer.

Does being a young carer have an impact on you?

Many young carers are able to cope well if they have support from other family members. However, it can be hard work being a young carer with increased responsibilities and less free time.

Some young carers feel that friendships are hard as other children don’t understand what they are going through or why they don’t have free time to hang out. This can cause some young carers to feel, sad, lonely or isolated and, in some cases, they may experience bullying.

Other young carers experience feelings of anger, guilt and anxiety. Some end up missing a lot of school or college due to their caring responsibilities, or find it hard to concentrate and fit in homework or coursework.

It can sometimes feel like it’s a massive responsibility and can be difficult to cope with, but it’s important to remember to look after yourself; you are not alone and can talk to someone about your experiences, whether that is a teacher at school, the school nurse, your GP or a charity offering support to young carers, like Barnardo’s.

I am a young carer, how can I get help?

There are a number of services that have been set up to help young carers and to give them the opportunity to enjoy their childhood where possible.

Services like Barnardo’s and ChildLine can offer support and advice to young people who are young carers. Further specialist support may be available with the consent of the person being cared for.

Some schools have a young carers’ champion whose job it is to support young carers in school, so it’s worth letting school know about your situation as they may be able to put things in place to support you.

REMEMBER:– being a young carer can be rewarding but also challenging, and it’s ok to ask for help. You’re not alone.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

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Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.

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