How can young carers be supported at home?
If we’re an unpaid carer, we may also have young carers (or child carers) in our family too. They’re not always obvious to spot. But, being able to identify a young carer means we can get support for them, through school, young carers' grants or local charity organisations.
Young Carers Action Day falls on the 15th of March 2024 this year, a nationwide event organised by Carers Trust. In our guide, we’re breaking down some of the different ways (as carers), we can also identify and support young carers in our family.
1. What is a young carer?
A young carer is a child (under 18) who is looking after or helping to look after another family member who is ill or disabled.
They’re typically involved in more house chores than another child their age, and/or giving more emotional support to the person they care for.
It's also possible they are missing out on some of the fun stuff other children their age can do, such as clubs or after-school play dates.
Some young carers will be carrying out nursing tasks and personal care. They’re also likely to do a lot more things for themselves, than another child their age. Such as taking themselves to school, making their own packed lunches, cooking or washing their own clothes.
Help for carers can come in different forms.
But some young carers are a little harder to spot such as children who have a disabled sibling. And so support for them may differ. While they may not be the direct carer for their sibling, they are still impacted by caring and still considered to be young carers.
Often, they are providing practical and emotional support to their parent(s) (who will often be the main carer). They may have to take care of their own needs, if their parent is busy with their sibling or they may be ‘on call’ for supporting their parent with their sibling’s care.
“My daughter has complex needs, because I do the bulk of her care, it never occurred to me that her siblings were young carers. They might not be cooking meals or doing personal care, but there is still a big impact on their lives. From helping me more, to making allowances or missing out on things. They also have their own emotions and their own lives going on.”
2. Why do young carers need support?
Young carers may miss out on time spent with their parents or friends. They may also have some feelings and emotions they would benefit with some help to understand and process.
Supporting young carers early on can improve their relationships. As well as their wellbeing and their outcomes in life. Making them feel noticed, understood and aware of the fact that they can still have their own aspirations in life.
Long-term impacts of being a young carer
The team at Crossroads Surrey has also shared some of the long-term impacts that caring can have on someone younger:
"It’s easy to think that all this responsibility is positive and character building for young people. But in reality, being a young carer can stop children from enjoying their childhood.
Studies show that young carers can experience poor mental health, with anxiety and isolation common issues. Children who care can be under more pressure than they have the life experience to rationalise – this can lead to anxiety. They can become isolated if they don’t talk about their home lives, or if the burden of caring prevents them from attending school regularly.
While missing school is only a knock-on effect of being a young carer, it can mean missing out on education, leading to fewer opportunities when the young carers reach adulthood."
3. Registering as a young carer
It’s important to register a young carer with their GP and with their school. This should enable further support to be directed to them. Such as being able to have conversations about how their caring role may be affecting their mental health.
Most GPs should have a carer registration form for us to fill.
4. Support for young carers at school
There are lots of ways schools can support a young carer. From help with homework to friendship groups.
“When I told our school about my child’s caring role, they were able to offer him mindfulness classes and to build a trusted relationship with a support worker at school - someone who checks in with him and who he could chat to, if things were worrying him. He also joined a small group of other young carers to do crafts once a week.”
5. Young Carers Assessment
6. Can Young Carers get Carer's Allowance?
Young adult carers (over 18) may be eligible for Carers' Allowance. However they must be caring for at least 35 hours per week and not in full time education (21 hours or more each week). Find out more about eligibility using our quick and free Carer’s Allowance tool. We’ll follow-up with an email on how to claim (if eligible) plus further relevant support options.
On the topic of finances, take a look at our ‘Discounts for carers’ guide to find out where carers can get money off, including free cinema tickets.
7. Extra funding for student carers
If young carers in our family are in part-time education, Turn2Us breaks down what benefits they may be entitled to.
Alternatively, if a young carer in our family is (or will be) considering University, they may be eligible for a ‘Young Adult Carers Bursary’ to help pay for additional resources they may need.
Find out more in our blog, ‘10 top tips for young adult carers off to university’ to find out how young carers can get support for and at University.
8. Young Carers Grants (Scotland only)
Young carers in Scotland (aged 16, 17 and 18) may be entitled to a Young Carer Grant of £308.15 a year. Find out how to apply here.
9. Organisations supporting young carers
There are many organisations offering support for young carers, including some carers’ organisations who extend their support to young carers.
We can also check with our local carers service 📍 to see whether they have a young carers support service.
Below are a few national organisations supporting young carers. Please let us know if you have a great organisation to add to the list.
National Support for young carers
The Children’s society also has a nifty tool to find support in our own area.
10. How Mobilise can support young adult carers?
Here at Mobilise, we’re all about supporting each other to care and thrive. No matter your age.
We understand that caring can (for the most part) often take an emotional toll on our wellbeing. And ensuring young carers in our family are also supported can be tricky on top of our caring role.
And that’s why the Mobilise Community is here for you.
Join the Mobilise Community, a space for unpaid carers to chat about their situation and personal lives. Where all sorts of questions are asked, tips are taken onboard (or not!) and hidden gems to help us in our caring role are discovered.
“They support carers from 18 to 65+ no one problem is too big or too small. Carers all have different backgrounds and people we care for, but we all have 1 thing in common which is what helps young people like myself mix with all the other carers within Mobilise. They're friendly, helpful and sometimes cheeky but I have not a bad word to say about them.”
- Young adult carer in the Mobilise Community
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