Who is a young carer?
A young carer is someone aged 18 or under who looks after someone. It might be a parent, grandparent, sibling or close relative.
What might a young carer do?
Practical tasks, such as cooking, housework and shopping. Physical care, such as helping someone out of bed. Emotional support, such as talking to someone who is distressed. Personal care, such as helping someone dress. Managing the family budget and collecting prescriptions. Helping to give medicine. Helping someone communicate. Looking after brothers and sisters. Young carers can find that looking after someone takes up a lot of their time; it can sometimes be very difficult for them to cope with everything. School work and attendance may suffer as well as finding time for their friends and other activities.
According to the 2011 census there are 200,000 young carers in the UK. This was an increase of 25,000 from the previous census. With many young carers unidentified this number is expected to be more. A BBC survey in 2010 estimated there were 700,000 young carers in the UK.
Help and support for young carers
Information for parents
If you are a parent who thinks their child could be a young carer and needs a bit of extra support you will need to talk to a teacher at your child’s school or your GP and ask them to make a referral to the Dorset Council Families and Children’s Team. They will then carry out an assessment to ensure you and your family get the help you need.
Information for teachers, GPs or Health Professionals
As many as one in six students in every class could be a young carer so it’s incredibly important to identify and support them in schools. Young carers are a vulnerable and disadvantaged group, meaning poor attendance, poorer mental health and bullying are frequently experienced. This affects school attainment and performance.
Identifying and supporting Young Carers can have a huge positive impact on the wellbeing of students who may be struggling, and allow them to feel supported and understood.
We have a a poster that can be displayed around your school, or given to students and parents for more information. You can also find key ways teachers and school staff can make schools young carer aware on this page, from designating a carers lead, to implementing a young carers policy.
If you are a teacher, GP or health professional who has identified a young carer you will need to talk to their parents or guardian about referring them to Dorset Council. They will carry out a carer assessment to ensure young carers and their families get the help they are entitled to.
Watch the NHS England video for an insight into what it’s like being a young carer.