A young carer is someone aged 18 or under who helps to look after a relative who has a disability, illness, mental health condition, or drug or alcohol problem.
The majority of young carers look after one of their parents or a brother or sister. They do jobs in and around the home, such as cooking, cleaning, or helping someone to get dressed and move around.
Young carers may need to help a relative to deal with their feelings by talking to them, listening and trying to understand their problems.
The difference between young carers and other young people who help in the home is that young carers are often responsible for someone else in their family in a way that most other young people aren’t.
There is another type of young carer called a sibling carer. This is a young person who helps to look after a brother or sister who is ill or disabled and needs help with everyday activities including eating, washing or moving about.
A young carer might also care for a grandparent or someone else from their extended family.
There are projects around the country that offer help and information to young carers. These projects are also places where young carers can have fun and relax. Follow the link at the end of this section to find a project near you.
Talk to someone
Talking to a friend or a relative about any problems can be helpful. People who find it hard to talk to others often write their thoughts in a diary, poem or letter first.
Teachers can also be a good person for you to speak to about any problems you have. If you’re getting angry in school, missing lessons to help look after someone at home, or struggling to get your work in on time, you might benefit from talking to a teacher.
Find a young carers project near you.
Make your voice heard
The Department of Health has set up an ideas tree so carers can post ideas and suggestions and read messages from other carers. Visit www.newdealforcarers.org.
If you ever feel the pressure is getting too much, you can contact helplines such as Childline Free on 0800 1111 or the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.