Can we ask you...
- Do you spend a lot of time helping someone close to you? Maybe a brother, sister, parent or grandparent?
- Do you miss out on spending time with friends due to looking after somebody?
- Do your family talk or confide in you when they have a problem or are feeling low?
- Do you sometimes have to help a family member to get up, washed or dressed?
- Do you do more household chores than other people your age? Perhaps you often shop, cook and clean for your family?
- Do you spend a lot of time looking after a family member because of their illness, mental health, physical or learning disability or drug/ alcohol misuse?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you may be a young carer or young adult carer.
A young carer is...
Someone, under 18, who supports someone who needs help eg. brother, sister, parent/ guardian
A young person that helps someone in their family home who may have a mental health issue, illness or disability (physical or learning) or misuse drugs or alcohol.
A child who gives up personal time to help support their family member.
What is it like to be a young carer?
There are lots of reasons why you might be finding things hard if you are a young carer. You might be worried about:
- the health of the person you care for
- your school work or exams
- money, finding a job or your future
- not being able to meet and go out with friends
- feeling you don't have any other choice
- being emotionally abused by the family member you are caring for
- having to look after brothers or sisters.
And if you can't see your friends as much as you'd like, you can feel lonely and isolated.
The coronavirus pandemic has increased the challenges and pressure you may be experiencing.
The Government have produced some guidance specifically for young carers and young adult carers designed to help you understand the changes you need to make and signposts the help available during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It is important that you look after yourself and use the support available to help you to do this.
What support is available locally?
The Junction Foundation delivers 1:1 support and a range of age appropriate group, social and developmental activities for young carers.
Their non-judgemental, confidential support services make a real difference to the lives of children, young people and their families across Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland. Get in touch: Tel: 01642 75600, email- firstname.lastname@example.org or contact through Facebook- @TheJunctionFoundation
The Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service is supporting children and young people experiencing mental health problems. Contact by phone: 0300 013 2000
Headstart is supporting school aged children and young people in Middlesbrough with low level emotional difficulties. Contact the team through Facebook: @Headstart Boro or by asking in school or speaking with The Junction.
Middlesbrough Recovery Together is a confidential drug and alcohol service for adults and young people in Middlesbrough. Phone: 01642 876323 or contact via Facebook: @CGLMiddlesbroughRecoveringTogether
Kooth is a fantastic, free and confidential, online support tool for young people. Take a look at this video which explains what it is:
Other useful websites and resources:
The Children's Society have pulled together some interesting facts about young carers that we think you should know.
1. There are more than 166,000 young carers aged 5-17 in the UK
This figure is based on a 2011 census and does not account for many young people who care for someone but have not yet been identified. The figure is now estimated to be closer to 800,000. On top of this, there are more than 314,000 young adult carers aged 16-24 in England and Wales.
2. There is no lower age limit for children caring for a friend or family member
Young carers are defined as a person under 18 who helps look after someone who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. We have worked with young carers who talk about taking on caring responsibilities as young as 5 years old. However, the legal definition of a young carer means that caring roles could start even younger. Despite so many being under the age of 16, financial support in the form of Carer's Allowance is only available when they turn 16.
3. As many as 27% of young carers aged 11-15 miss school
It's reported that over one quarter of young carers are forced to miss school and experience educational difficulties due to their caring responsibilities. What's more, 39% of young carers said that nobody in their school was even aware of their caring responsibilities.
4. Young carers deal with things most people don't until they reach adulthood
Young carers' responsibilities vary greatly but many will have to take on difficult roles that many of us may never experience in a lifetime. Like adult carers, this may include offering emotional support to parents, managing the family budget, collecting prescriptions and many more.
5. Over one third of young carers reported having a mental health problem
Research by Carers Trust and the University of Nottingham found that almost a third of young carers reported that their own physical health was 'just OK', whilst 38% reported having a mental health problem.
6. Young carers need more support as they move into adulthood
Only 13% of young carers who have been looking after a friend or family member receive a Young Carers Transition Assessment to support them in adulthood.
7. There is a festival specifically for young carers
Every year, there is a Young Carers Festival where thousands of young carers get together to have fun, make new friends, and raise awareness of the issues that are important to them. Unfortunately this year's festival has had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 but they hope to be back next year with a bang.