The theme for Carers Week today is younger carers. A young carer is someone under the age of 18 (they may be as young as five) who looks after a family member or a friend who has a physical or mental health condition or a drugs or alcohol problem. They do practical things like cooking, cleaning, shopping and going to doctors or to hospital appointments. They also give emotional support to the person they are caring for.  Older young carers, aged 18-25, are also known as young adult carers who may juggle education and, or work as well as caring responsibilities.

A recent Carers Trust survey of young carers and young adult carers included these quotes from young carers: is always or usually hitting them and their family.

“I’d love to have kid problems. Instead, I’m saving up to try and pay our rent and to see if I can squeeze in some food at the end of it.”  

“I wouldn’t say that my caring role impacts my life; I would say that it is my life.”

“We save the government lots of money by doing the work of caring, but we don’t get the help or support we need. I just want to enjoy my childhood as well as being a young carer.”

“Caring never stops. Especially when it’s time to sleep, your brain constantly worries about how tomorrow will be, hospital appointments, money etc. It’s in overdrive.”

“It’s hard to quantify. Caring isn’t just the time I’m physically spending with the people I care for; it’s also the free time I spend worrying.”

According to The Carers Trust, being a young adult carer can affect a young person’s health, social life and self-confidence – over 45% reported a mental health problem. Many struggle to manage their education, working life and caring role which can cause pressure and stress. And 29% had dropped out of college/university because of their caring role. This is four times greater than the national average for degree courses.

Recognising Young Carers in Education Settings
It is clear from the information above, that being a young carer has a huge impact and can understandable, affect their concentration, performance and progression in education.

At Forward Carers, we would like to encourage schools, sixth forms, colleges and universities in the UK to firstly, recognise and support students who are also Carers and secondly to take measures to become Carer Friendly. Aston University has taken steps to become carer friendly and is in the process of undertaking carer aware training delivered by our trusted partner RightTrack Learning.

Take steps to support young carers and encourage your educational establishment to sign up to our carer aware training.