A young carer is anyone under the age of 18 who helps to look after someone, such as a parent, sibling or friend.
This can be for a number of reasons, for example if a person is ill, disabled or has a substance misuse problem.
They can have a range of responsibilities that other children their age are unlikely to have, such as assisting someone else with washing and dressing alongside everyday household chores like cooking and cleaning.
Because of this increased responsibility, young carers:
- might find it difficult to maintain friendships with other children who don’t understand their situation
- can feel sad, isolated or overwhelmed
- may achieve lower grades at school than their peers
What support is available?
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.
If you’re a parent or family member of a young carer, it’s worth speaking to their school as there are lots of ways in which they can offer additional support. From giving extra time for school work to offering emotional support about home life.
They might also benefit from meeting and socialising with other young carers in young carers projects, who offer excursions such as days out and evening clubs. You can find more information about these projects on the Children’s Society website.
If a young carer feels as though they need to miss school, they will require extra support to manage their situation. A GP or nurse, who’s responsibility it is to care for the person being looked after by the young carer, may be able to arrange this extra support at home.