Young carers are children and young people under 18 whose lives are affected in some way by caring for another person.
Young carers support (or help to support) someone who would not be able to stay at home without their help. This might be their mum or dad, their sister or brother, an auntie or uncle or even a grandparent.
Young carers aged between 16 and 25 are often called young adult carers. They may struggle to balance their caring role with education, employment and relationships.
The impact of caring
Helping to look after someone is a wonderful thing to do; however, it can have a big impact on the young person’s own life.
These are many ways caring for someone might affect a young person’s life:
- missing school or not having time to do their homework
- not going to college or university because they feel they can’t leave home
- not being able to have friends around
- not having enough time to enjoy leisure and social activities
- being bullied at school
- feeling lonely and cut off from other children and young people
- not having time to enjoy being young
Every child and young person has certain rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. These include the right to:
Help for young carers
It’s important that young carers are not left to struggle on alone.
Always make the young person’s school or college aware of the situation – if they know, they are more likely to be sympathetic if the young person is sometimes late or can’t always do their homework on time.
Young adult carers who are working should tell their employer. In the event of an emergency, all carers have a legal right to (unpaid) leave.
Young carers are entitled to an assessment of their own needs. Social services will find ways to support young carers, including putting them in touch with a young carers support group or arranging a short break.
If the cared-for person is not currently receiving any outside support, contact the local council’s social services to find out what help might be available.