It is estimated that up to 1 in every 5 children and young people in the UK is a young carer.
A young carer is someone under the age of 18 who helps to care for a family member, relative or friend. A young person aged 16-25 with caring responsibilities can be known as a young adult carer.
Young people with caring responsibilities have all the challenges of being young, with all the responsibilities of being an adult, and they're often left to face these alone.
These young people might be offering support to someone with a disability, or a long-term illness or they might have issues with drugs or alcohol. Without this help, they would struggle or not be able to cope. And often young carers will be facing these responsibilities alone.
Carers Week, which is running from 5 - 11 June, aims to highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognises the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don't think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
This Carers Week, Carers UK want "communities across the UK to come together to recognise the huge contribution unpaid carers make to society. Politicians, employers, health and social services, businesses, education providers and members of the public all have a role to play in raising awareness of caring and making sure carers are able to access the information and support they need."
Young carers can find support with a number of charities including;
Barnados has support and advice for families with young carers barnardos.org.uk
Carers UK has factsheets and details of help including legal rights and financial support. carersuk.org
Carers Trust will help find local young carer services and has details of helplines across the UK carers.org
We have a collection of fiction that feature young carers in stories of resilience, tenderness and humanity.
S E Durrant writes convincingly and movingly about ordinary young people in extraordinary situations and in Running on Empty, finds beauty and certainty in an apparently bleak situation. Eleven-year old AJ’s parents both have learning difficulties and he becomes their main carer when his grandfather suddenly dies.
Tony Bradman’s gripping novella, A Bad Day for Jayden, about a (bad) day in the life of a boy caring for his mum is truly touching, and especially great for reluctant readers – the concise, considered storytelling holds attention, and the short chapters are perfect for encouraging readers to keep going, or take a break, as they require.
Stevie’s mother is suffering with depression, spending most of her time asleep and relying on her daughter for everything. Tender and convincing, Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham, demonstrates that with friendship, unity and humanity there’s hope even in the most extreme circumstances.
Tender in both name and tone, Eve Ainsworth's debut tackles tough themes with heart-wrenching honesty. Marty’s mum struggles to get out of bed, while for Marty it’s the going to bed that’s the problem, “because that’s when the thinking starts… Give me the mornings anytime. Give me the light”. Marty’s life was on track until his dad died, but he’s now all but dropped out of school and is terrified of what might happen if the social workers knew how ill his mum has become. But it’s the social workers who give him a leaflet about a young carers group, which is where he meets Daisy…
Daisy has problems of her own. Her beloved brother Harry has debilitating muscular dystrophy. During one young carers meeting, Daisy is passionate about wanting to see the world, which seems impossible to Marty. His world is poorer and smaller. It’s confined to his estate and revolves around his mum. But, while they come from different worlds, they’re united by that fact that they both feel powerless when it comes to what matters most. Daisy can’t make Harry well, and Marty can’t bring back his dad or fix his mum. Consequently, they find solace - and more - in each other. Honest on the realities of mental illness, grief and how it feels to be a teen carer, this truly touching read shines a bright light of love and hope through Daisy and Marty’s darkest days.
Find more stories below, and you can find further reading, including non-fiction on nurturing good mental health, in our Anxiety and Wellbeing collection.