If you are under 18 years old and look after or care for another person or family member (of any age), you may be known as a young carer.
- What is a young carer?
- Help and support that is available to young carers
- Get a young carers assessment
You may be a young carer if you provide care to someone of any age who is:
- physically or mentally ill
- frail or elderly
- misusing alcohol or other substances
Young carers can often be described as a ‘hidden group. This means that professionals, like your doctor or teachers at your school, are not aware of the support you provide to another family member and how this affects your life.
Many young carers find caring rewarding and develop different skills through being a young carer. However, it is important that support is given when your caring role starts to affect you. Young carers can be vulnerable, for example when the amount of caring they do and the responsibility of their caring role become too much to cope with. The responsibility of a caring role can impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing, your education and opportunities.
As a young carer you may:
- not realise that you are a young carer, and that you have the right to an assessment
- not enjoy talking with other people about what is happening at home
- be worried that your family will be placed ‘at risk’ if you do talk to someone.
If you are (or think you may be) a young carer, or know of someone else who is or may be one, there are people you can talk to and organisations you can contact for help and support. Try the following:
Speak to someone at your school or college. Most schools have a young carers policy and a champion of young carers, and some even have peer support groups to support pupils who are young carers
Carers Support centre helpline on telephone number 0117 965 2200
South Gloucestershire’s Access and Response Team (see below)
Speak to a professional who the person you are caring for is seeing
Visit your GP (doctor)
If you are a young carer or know of a young carer and would like information and support from the council you can contact the Access and Response team (ART) on 01454 866000. The Access and Response team will discuss with you how caring affects you and what would help you to do those things that are important to you.
Our article ‘How families are supported’ explains what support is available from our early help services and how to contact them. If you care for a sibling or family member who has a disability and is under the age of 18, the 0 – 18 social care disability team can also talk to you about your caring role when they work with your family member.
The Carers Support Centre provides a service and a lot of support for young carers in South Gloucestershire who meet the eligibility criteria. They have a webpage dedicated to young carers which details the types of support and activities they have on offer.
This support can include:
- whole family young careers needs assessments
- breaks from your caring role ; activities and days out
- a young carers participation group
- Plus many more options.
The Carers Support Centre also raise awareness of young carers and how to support them amongst professionals and community groups. Working with young carers they have made the following short film to mark Young Carer Awareness Day. The film aims to raise awareness amongst teachers and pupils, and has been part funded by Carers Trust.
In the film, young carer Ellie, 14, from Bradley Stoke says:
“Even though we spend a lot of our time in our caring roles and doing something a lot of people don’t do, we still have ambitions. We still have dreams we want to accomplish in the next couple of years or in the future.” Ellie talks about how her caring role both helps and hinders her.
If you are a young carer you will be entitled to a carers assessment. This is a chance for you to talk to someone about your caring role. The person doing the assessment will help you decide:
whether it is ok for you to continue caring
if more support would help you and the person you care for.
Assessments are not anything to worry about. It is a chance to see if you are being supported properly, so that you have the same chances as other people your age.
There are two types of assessments for young carers or young adults :
young carers assessment for under 18s
transition assessment for young adult carers before they are 18
carers assessments for all carers aged 18 and over
You can read a summary of the Young Carers Strategy for more information.