Who are young carers?
More young people are providing care in the home to their relatives than ever before. Their relatives may have a physical disability, a long-term illness, have emotional and mental health problems or drug/alcohol dependencies. Their day to day responsibilities can often include cooking, cleaning, shopping, providing nursing and intimate personal care, giving emotional support, financial management and caring for siblings.
The impact the responsibility of this care can have on a young person is profound and long-lasting, and outcomes for these children are significantly lower than their counterparts.
The struggle young carers face
Our 2006 study into young carers found that there was a culture of secrecy amongst young carers and their families, and that the support available from schools and agencies working with them was inconsistent and often unsuitable. The report concluded that many young carers spend years unidentified, unsupported, and isolated in their caring responsibilities.
Over a decade later, many young carers are still being failed by the numerous agencies they come into contact with. Some are not being identified and are not receiving the targeted and consistent support they need.
Being a young carer can have a major life changing impact. While many are proud of their role, constant care work impacts on their academic performance, and mental health.
What are we calling for?
Too many young carers provide care because there is not funding available to provide the support that families need.
More needs to be done by each sector – our report includes recommendations for education, health, and local and national government agencies.
If we are to avoid another generation of young carers sacrificing their future for the ones they love, we need concerted action by all those involved to relieve the immense burden from such young shoulders.