Young carers are children who help look after a member of the family who is sick, disabled or has mental health problems, or is misusing drugs or alcohol. Their day to day responsibilities often include:
- providing nursing and personal care
- giving emotional support.
With so many adult responsibilities, young carers often miss out on opportunities that other children have to play and learn. Many struggle educationally and are often bullied for being ‘different’. They can become isolated, with no relief from the pressures at home, and no chance to enjoy a normal childhood. They are often afraid to ask for help as they fear letting the family down or being taken into care.
Young carer facts
- The average age of a young carer is 12.
- The 2001 census showed that there are 175,000 young carers in the UK, 13,000 of whom care for more than 50 hours a week.
- More than half of young carers live in one-parent families and almost a third care for someone with mental health problems.
Projects working with young carers
Barnardo’s runs 15 projects across the UK which work to support young carers and their families in a variety of ways:
- Helping the family to find the support they need, and are entitled to, from local services, so that a child’s caring responsibilities can be reduced.
- Supporting young carers to use local services such as sports clubs, support groups, and health centres.
- Providing advice and emotional support through counselling and drop-in sessions
- Liaising with schools so that teachers can better support their students
- Providing opportunities for young carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities, spend time with other young carers and share experiences
- Providing opportunities for young carers to learn more about their parent’s illness or disability
If you would like to read more about what young carers do including briefings and summary's then download professional resources on young carers.