A young carer is someone under 18 who helps look after someone that they live with who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol.

What Might a Young Carer Do?

Most children and young people help at home in some way but young carers do more than their peers. Their family members rely on their help to do the things that they find difficult or can’t do at all.   

Examples of what a young carer may have to do include:

  • Practical tasks, such as cooking, housework and shopping.
  • Physical care, such as helping someone out of bed. 
  • Emotional support, such as talking to someone who is distressed.
  • Personal care, such as helping someone bath, wash or dress.
  • Managing the family budget and collecting prescriptions.
  • Helping to give medicine. 
  • Helping someone communicate.
  • Taking responsibility for brothers and sisters when parents are too unwell to do it themselves. This can include taking younger siblings to school. 

Young Carers Across the UK 

Carers Trust has carried out extensive research and consultations with young carers across the UK. They’ve found that:

  • 68% report being bullied at school.
  • Only half of young carers have a particular person in school who recognises that they are a carer and helps them.
  • Young carers miss or cut short an average of 48 school days per year because of their caring role.
  • Many services are only funded to work with young carers up to the age of 18. In a survey, 79% of young carers said they were worried about moving on as they felt there was no support for them.

Young Carers in Gateshead

In 2017, we carried out a Young Carer Health Review on behalf of Public Health Gateshead. This suggested that:

  • More than 40% of young carers were missing at least one meal each day.
  • 85% reported having headaches, 70% reported feeling tired and 65% reported feeling low, either some or all the time.
  • Half reported problems sleeping, with 20% sleeping only 4-5 hours a night.
  • Almost 40% reported having an hour or less to relax per day
  • Almost 30% reported feeling unhappy with their life.
  • 25% reported worrying about the person that they cared for. Over 30% worried about their family
  • In further discussion, young carers described a cycle of worry about family and schoolwork that affected sleep and their ability to perform academically.
  • Young carers experienced stigma from an early age due to low income or their family’s ability to provide similar social opportunities to their peers.

Being a young carer can have a big impact on the things that are important to growing up

  • It can affect a young person’s health, social life and self-confidence.
  • Many young carers struggle to juggle their education and caring which can cause pressure and stress.
  • In a survey, 39% said that nobody in their school was aware of their caring role.
  • 1 in 20 miss school because of their caring role.

Being a young carer is challenging. It can be stressful and affect health, wellbeing, friendships and future opportunities. Despite these challenges, many young carers develop skills and qualities that they should be proud of. They can be compassionate, resourceful, responsible, mature and able to cope with difficult situations. However, young carers need a break from their caring role and the chance to enjoy the same opportunities as other children and young people.

Who Are Young Adult Carers?

Young adult carers are young people aged 16–25 who care, unpaid, for a family member or friend with an illness or disability, mental health condition or an addiction.

Many young adult carers will have been caring since they were children. For some it will be a whole new experience. Maybe a loved one has recently become unwell or perhaps their own child has a disability. Whenever someone starts providing care for another person, it can turn their life upside down and affect their education, job opportunities, social life and personal health and wellbeing.

What Might a Young Adult Carer Do?

Young adult carers carry out similar tasks to younger carers but will often take on greater responsibility as they get older, particularly if the person they care for becomes more ill. These extra responsibilities can come when young adult carers are trying to cope with important times in their education or even work.

Being a young adult carer can have a big impact on the things that are important to growing up

There are at least 376,000 young adult carers in the UK. They are likely to be in every school, college, university and workplace. Many struggle to manage their education, working life and caring role which can cause pressure and stress.

  • Being a young adult carer can affect health, social life and self confidence – over 45% reported having a mental health problem in a national Carers Trust survey.
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young adult carers in Scotland reported extremely high levels of bullying. 83% had personally experienced bullying in school, 40% in college and 27% at university. 88% reported to have, or to have had, mental health problems.
  • Young adult carers aged between 16 and 18 years are twice as likely to be not in education, employment, or training (NEET) as their peers.
  • Recent research on young adult carers who were no longer in education showed their highest qualifications were GCSEs grade D–G. On average, young adult carers achieve 9 GCSE grades less than their peers.
  • 56% of young adult carers in college or university were struggling because of their caring role. 17% said they may have to drop out for reasons associated with their caring role and 13% said that they may have to drop out for financial reasons.
  • 29% had dropped out of college or university because of their caring role. This is four times greater than the national average for degree courses.

Take a look at some stories from Young Carers