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Young carers

As a young carer you can find helping someone very rewarding, but you also have the right to be looked after. Find out what young carers do, how to spot if it’s getting too much and what to do about it.

What are young carers?

The BBC estimates that there are about 700,000 young carers in the UK. Being a young carer often means looking after a family member who is ill, or helping them by looking after the other members of the family while they can’t.

Young carers often do more chores than other children would. On top of providing emotional support to the person they are caring for, they may also have to learn how to nurse them or look after their personal needs like bathing and dressing.

It can be hard work being a young carer. Sometimes other children don’t understand your responsibilities and you have less free time than others.

Many young people cope well with caring, especially if you have support from other family members , but it’s still important to look after yourself. You have the right to be looked after too and there are lots of places and people you can go to to get help.

Getting help

Sometimes, being a young carer can get too much to deal with on your own. Talk to your teacher, school nurse, college counsellor or GP if you're having any of these feelings:

  • feeling stressed by too much responsibility
  • feeling physically tired
  • feeling worried about your relative’s health
  • struggling to cope with other people’s mood
  • having no time for yourself or your homework
  • missing school
  • feeling embarrassed about your situation
  • being bullied
  • experiencing low self-esteem, anxiety, anger or guilt

You’re not alone if you experience any of these feelings. Young carers miss an average of 48 days of school because of their role and 68% have been bullied at some point directly because of having to care for someone. Organisations set up to help young carers recognise all of these problems and have people and strategies to support you.

Even if you don’t feel like you need help for a problem, it is always good to have the support of others who understand your situation. Young carers groups run all around the UK to help with advice as well as giving you somewhere to let off steam and enjoy yourself.

YoungMinds Crisis Messenger

Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.

All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.

Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.

Text: YM to 85258

Opening times: 24/7

Carers UK

Offers support to carers across the UK.

Runs an online forum for carers to get advice and share their experiences and feelings.

Phone: 0808 808 7777

Email: [email protected]

Opening times: 9am - 6pm, Monday - Friday

Youth Access

Provides information about local counselling and advice services for young people aged 12-25.

You can find local services on their website.

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