Whether you are aware of it or not, the chances are you know a young carer. Currently, there are 700,000 young carers in the UK, that’s about 1 in 12 secondary aged pupils.
A young carer is somebody who is 18 years old or younger, the average age being 12, who looks after a relative with a disability, illness, mental health condition, or drug or alcohol problem. Responsibilities range from practical tasks like cooking, cleaning and shopping, to emotional support such as talking to someone who is distressed.
I think we can both agree that for a young person especially, having to do tasks like managing the family budget and collecting prescriptions must be very tiring on top of school work and the social pressures that come with being young. However, this is not the case for a young carer, most have had these responsibilities for a while and for them, caring is just what they do.
Many young carers find it difficult to juggle education and caring which can cause pressure and stress. So much so, 1 in 20 young carers miss school due to their role. Even when they are in school, it isn’t much easier. According to a recent survey, 26% of young carers are bullied because of their caring role. For these young people, going to school is seen as a break from the tiring work they are expected to do at home, yet some of them are made to feel unimportant, worthless, and isolated. We need to let them know they are the exact opposite of this, they matter, and we are there for them.
Many organisations exist to help young carers, for example, Carers Trust, which allows young carers to manage their caring role through services across the UK. It also offers young carers the chance to be free from their caring responsibilities through trusted activities, clubs, outings, holidays and one-to-one support. If you are interested in this topic or want to see how you can help, visit carers.org to find out more.