Young Carers are children and young people whose lives are affected by looking after someone in their family with a disability or long-term illness.
This includes mental ill-health, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, addiction to drugs or alcohol and long-term health conditions. A Young Carer could be caring for a sibling, parent, grandparent or another family member, usually someone they live with or spend a lot of time with. Some Young Carers care for more than one family member.
Being a Young Carer can impact physical, social, emotional and educational well-being.
What Do Young Carers Do?
Children and young people who care for a relative have a wide variety of responsibilities depending on the nature of the illness or disability, as well as the level and frequency of need and the structure of the family unit. A young carer might do some or all of the following:
Impacts of being a Young Carer
Being a Young Carer can impact social, emotional, physical and educational well-being. Some examples are:
- Feeling isolated and different from their peers
- Experiencing bullying
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of time for themselves
- Difficulties moving into adulthood
- Less time for homework
- Missing or being late to school
- Conflict between their own needs and those of the person they care for
Building strength and resilience
While being a Young Carer can be challenging many Young Carers develop key life skills. Some examples are:
- Greater sense of empathy
- Household skills such as cooking
- Money management and budgeting
- Communication skills
- Increased confidence
- Creating close bonds with family
- Time management
Young Carers may be seen to be coping but this does not mean they would not benefit from extra support. Connecting with others in similar situations can be very valuable.