A young carer is a child or young person aged under 18, who has a significant caring role for another person, who suffers from physical disability, mental health problems, substance misuse or any other debilitating or long-term illness.
Often children and young carers don’t know that they are young carers and think they are just helping their mum, dad or siblings. Young carers play a crucial role in their families.
Am I a young carer?
Caring may include helping to feed, bathe, clothe or giving medication to someone in your family.
What impact may this have?
- feeling overwhelmed
- worrying while at school about person you are caring for
- arriving late at school
- needing to be at home so unable to see friends
- pressure, stress and anxiety
- a feeling that they are not being listened to
- financial pressures- worrying about money
- more vulnerable to self-harm, child sexual exploitation, mental health issues
We all need supportive friends and adults around us
Often young carers can feel alone and having supportive people around is essential if they are to develop the healthy brain architecture that they need to thrive as adults. A healthy brain supports the learning of life skills like organising information and regulating behaviour, prioritising, delaying gratification, planning ahead, coping with frustration and managing risks.
Fostering strong, positive and supportive relationships enhances healthy brain development and helps to mitigate the impact of any negative early life experiences. Find out more about young people's brain development.
Sometimes young carers are what we call “hidden” this is often because young people are worried if adults/school find out what is going on they may get in trouble or feel their family could be split up.
Young people have told us that sometimes they feel that no one can help or they have been let down by services in the past.
What support can I get?
We are here to listen and can help. We can provide young carers with:
- an understanding of their needs (don’t worry this is to help us see what is working well and how we can help)
- one-to-one support
- advice to support young carers in their caring role
- information about other support services and activities available
Support available in the voluntary sector includes:
- SIBZ project offers support for siblings of children with disabilities. The project is run by Mencap and offers holiday trips to children with disabilities and their siblings. Call 0208 748 5168 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Family Friends offers parent befriending and child mentoring projects and programmes. Call 0208 960 9099 or email email@example.com