A young carer is someone under 18 who looks after a parent or another family member. They take on physical and emotional duties that adults usually handle. It can feel scary and isolating.
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 than their peers.
- With the added complications of COVID-19, young carers have missed out on even more school than before and urgent support is needed if they are not to be left behind their peers.
- Caring can also be an isolating experience but having the right support in place can give young carers a better chance of succeeding in all parts of their lives.
It can sometimes be hard to talk to your friends or other people about your situation. You might be embarrassed or feel like they wouldn’t understand. You might be worried about whether you’re allowed to ask for support, or if you’d be letting anyone down.
It’s always okay to ask for help when you’re caring for someone. Even when you’re managing on your own, getting a little help can make things easier for everyone and help you to feel less alone. You’re never letting anyone down by talking about it.
Being a young carer can take up a lot of your day and mean you don’t have much time to yourself.
It’s important you find the time to get on with schoolwork, meeting up with friends and have time do to things that make you feel good.
Meeting up with friends
You might wonder how you can find time to see friends as a young carer. But it’s really important that you do see your friends sometimes. And if you join your local young carer organisation, this can help you make friends with others in a similar situation.
Make sure to have time for you. If it’s hard to get time away from the house, you could invite a friend over. This can be a good way to spend time together as well as helping your friend to understand your situation at home.
For some young carers it can be difficult to have friends around, so you might like to join online activities. These might be available through a local young carers group
It’s really important that you’re still able to do as well as possible at school or college. If you’re struggling to do homework or concentrate in class, you should talk to an adult at school or college that you trust. Lots of schools have a young carers champion who you can talk to and find out about help available.
Your school may be able to do things like:
- give you extra time to do homework or coursework
- find ways for you to be able to do your work in school rather than trying to find time or a quiet space at home
- make sure teachers know not to talk about your family situation in front of others
- be flexible around things like using phones and make arrangements so you can phone or message home if you need to check things are okay
- be understanding if you are late because of your caring role
- help you with decisions like going to college or getting a job
- arrange for someone to talk to if things get more difficult at home
- help you find out about the illness or disability of the person you care for
- allowing time to re-sit exams if your exam results have been affected.
Kernow Young Adult Carers – Action for Children
Providing a range of universal, targeted and specialist services to Young People aged 11-19 and those up to 25 with SEND in Cornwall
Meet other young carers
Meeting up with other young carers is a great way to make new friends, have some fun and share some of your worries with people in similar situations to your own.
Young carers projects can help you have a break from home, plus meeting other young carers can help you to relax. Young carers projects may offer evening clubs, weekends away, days out and even holidays, as well as friendly advice and information for you and for your family.
The Children’s Society runs the Young Carers Festival and funds projects for young carers.
Action for Children can put you in touch with other young carers. It also has free places for young carers at its residential activity camps.
Help from social workers
A social worker from your local council has to visit, if you or your parents request this.
Social workers may be asked to help a young carer’s family if there are problems that the family members are finding hard to sort out on their own.
Help from doctors, nurses and other health workers
If you’re worried about your health, or the health of the person you care for, speak to a doctor or GP.
School nurses visit schools and are usually happy to speak with you about any of your health concerns.
Counsellors work in a variety of places, including schools, hospitals and youth centres. Their job is to listen carefully and give advice – in a private setting.
Local mental health nurses can offer emotional support and advice about mental health conditions. If the person you care for has a “community psychiatric nurse”, you can talk to the nurse about their condition and how you can help them cope.
If you’re worried about your own mental health, you can find out more about mental health support for children and young people. There are services all over the country helping young people with mental health conditions.
Other organisations that can help young carers
Citizens Advice has information on money, benefits and your rights.
The National Careers Service has a helpline, webchat and email service about education and careers for teenagers. Support is also available up to the age of 25 for those who have learning difficulties or disabilities.
Sidekick is an anonymous and confidential text service for young carers aged 13-18 in the UK. You can text any time, about anything that’s bothering you as a young carer. They will find you the answers you need and text you back within 24 hours. 07888 868 059
Young carers who are approaching the age of 18 are eligible for help in their own right under the Care Act. This is regardless of the age of their sibling.
When a young carer approaches their 18th birthday, they can ask for an assessment of their needs to find out what support can be put in place to help them achieve their aspirations, for example to go to college or work.