Information for young carers
Find out what a young carer is and how you can get support.
Are you a young carer?
Are you under 18 and help to look after a relative with a disability, illness, mental health condition, or drug or alcohol problem? Or do you help them by looking after the other members of the family while they can't? Then you are a young carer.
'I didn't know that I was a young carer back then. I was just thinking, "I've got to deal with this."' Young carer, 15, The Children's Society
What do young carers do?
Having a disabled or ill guardian, parent, grandparent or sibling can make a difference to the way you feel and talk about things.
You may be taking on extra tasks like shopping, cooking and cleaning. You may also have to physically help the person you care for – to wash, get dressed or move about. You may be supporting their wellbeing and mental health.
It can be hard work being a young carer. Sometimes other children or young people don't understand your responsibilities and why 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. There are lots of places and people you can go to for help.
'Young carers are people who care for someone in their home, not by choice, but we volunteer to do it and because of that we meet amazing people.' Young carer, 15, The Children's Society
Caring for your own health and wellbeing
Young carers can face extra pressures and struggle to look after themselves, but it is so important that you take the time to look after yourself, your wellbeing and emotional and mental health. There is information and help out there.
The Children's Society's wellbeing pages for young carers explore why it is important for you to take care of your own wellbeing. It gives you lots more information and support and there is also a wellness plan that you could put together to help you in your caring role.
Top tips for looking after your own health and wellbeing
Here are some tips based on what other young carers have said:
- Do things you enjoy and that help you relax: listen to music, write in a diary about how you're feeling or things that are worrying you, read a book or magazine, or watch your favourite show. You could try some yoga or meditation to relax, or have a bath or shower. Getting creative is a great way to take your mind off things – why not draw, paint, act, cook, bake, colour, garden or craft?
- Stay connected: it's important that you talk to people about how you're feeling. This could be with people in your house – or friends, family and those you trust. Face-to-face is great, and so is talking on the phone a video call, email, text or even via post!
- Keep healthy: try to eat healthily and do some kind of exercise every day. Daily physical activity is important for your health and wellbeing and can help you to manage stress, sleep better and feel more positive.
- Be aware of times when you don't feel yourself: perhaps you could write down what has made you feel like that (if you know) and try and think what can help you to feel more positive. If you make a note of it, you can come back to it next time.
- Ask for help if you need it: remember it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust (those in your family, your unit leader, school or a trusted adult).
Support for young carers
As a young carer you can find helping someone very rewarding, but you also have the right to be looked after. You are entitled to an assessment of your own needs and how your caring role may impact your own health and worries.
If you are under 18 and are a young carer you can request or be referred for an assessment of your needs under the Children and Families Act 2014. This can support you to talk and think about what you could be offered, or what support could be offered to the person you care for, to reduce your caring role.
When you are ready to start thinking about the future you can also be offered a 'transition assessment' under the Care Act 2014. This is a chance for you to discuss what you want for the future, including whether you go into higher education or employment and what support you will need for you or for the person you care for to achieve your goals.
We don't want any barriers to get in the way of you taking part in Girlguiding activities for further support. Please do get in touch with your unit leader.
Financial support for young carers
Worrying about a loved one and how you're going to care for them can put a real strain on your day-to-day life. And when it comes to managing money things can get even tougher.
Visit the Children's Society's advice pages to learn about the financial support available for young carers and how you can access this funding.
Young carers projects
Remember that there are other children and young people out there who have been through similar experiences to you.
Young carers can meet other young carers and be supported by local young carer's projects that are run by various organisations nationally. For more information visit the Children's Society's pages for young carers.