What is a young carer?
Simply, a young carer is a child or young person aged under 18 (or aged 18+ but still in school) who has a significant role in looking after someone else who is experiencing illness or disability. They could be supporting someone in their family who struggles due to:
- Age (excluding caring for a child under the age of 18)
- Mental Health
- Drug or Alcohol Abuse
The person they are supporting may be a parent, sibling or grandparent. They may care for the individual by doing house work, transporting them to and from appointments, providing emotional support or taking them for days out.
What impact does being a young carer have?
Being a young carer can have a huge impact on the individuals social life, relationships and school work. Being a young carer means sacrificing your own time to support another person, this time may come from giving up a hobby or study time which may have a huge impact on the person's life. Unfortunately in some cases this can lead to severe situations such as bullying or substance or alcohol abuse.
Is it common to be a young carer?
In short, the answer is yes. It is estimated that over 800,000+ young people in the UK are young carers, and 8% of secondary school pupils are classed as young carers. However, out of this number very few are officially registered as young carers and receiving support for their work. Sadly this is often due to embarrassment or worry, even though young carers are brave individuals who should be proud of their work.
Current estimates suggest that there may be approximately 1500 young carers in East Lothian (based on Scottish Government statistics), however latest studies carried out by Carers Trust UK reveal that this number may be closer to 3000. Out of this number only 200 have been identified.
Because of this, there has been a huge push to support young carers and to reward them for the incredible work they do.
What support and rewards are available for young carers?
If you are a young carer, you have a right to a Young Carers Statement - a document based on a conversation with you about your caring role and personal goals to understand your needs.
There are many benefits to registering yourself as a Young Carer, such as:
- Receiving support through workshops or one to one chats with a professional.
- Getting rewarded for your work (e.g. 2 for 1 cinema tickets, 50% off restaurants etc).
- Being able to meet other brave young carers.
Susan Kerr, the Young Carers Youth Worker for Knox can be reached in the small room in the locker area next to the library on a Tuesday morning or through her email: firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or for any support with identifying yourself as a young carer.
A young carers identification form can be found at: https://interactive.vptol.co.uk/Questionnaire/Questionnaire/90005264?uid=2967&orgid=19758&strSesId+6076810261011202209&ignoreResume=true&direct+true
Or by scanning the QR code below:
More information can be found at:
Or by Emailing: email@example.com
My friend or family member is a young carer, how can I support them?
There are many ways to get involved in supporting a young carer, for example:
- Inviting them to talk about their responsibilities and providing emotional support.
- Running awareness days. Young carers awareness day is usually held around 15 March each year (see section below).
- Supporting them in studies and helping them in their school work.
- Point them in the direction of support, like registering as a young carer.
Young carers put in a lot of time and effort to support others, it is time for us to support them!
Young Carers Action Day - 15 March 2023
Young Carers Action Day is an annual event, organised each year by Carers Trust (the largest provider of comprehensive carers support services in Scotland). It's a day for raising public awareness of Young Carers and Young Adult Carers, the incredible contribution they make by caring for their family members or friends and the pressures and challenges they face. The theme for YCAD 2023 is;
Make Time for Young Carers
Carers Trust has spoken to hundreds of young carers at festivals in Scotland, England and Wales. The overarching theme young carers wanted to talk about was their health and wellbeing. In practice, young carers saw better health and wellbeing coming from improved support in school, more access to breaks, better access to counselling support and more financial support.
Carers Trust also talked to local carer organisations as well as their young adult carer interns. They began to focus on what prevents good health and wellbeing among young carers, and what came out very strongly was how spending time on caring can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed, with little time for hobbies and interests that are so fundamental to wellbeing.
‘Make Time for Young Carers’ communicates two imperatives for young carers: the need to support them with their caring roles so they have more time for activities that lead to health and wellbeing; and the need for professionals and responsible adults to make more time for young carers so they can hear and better understand the challenges they face as a first step towards tackling these challenges.
Now that Carers Trust have decided on a theme, their focus will move on to:
- Working on a timetable of training and other opportunities for young and young adult carers to get involved in YCAD 2023.
- Developing downloadable materials like campaign posters, flyers and fact sheets that they will publish on carers.org before Christmas.
In East Lothian services across the authority will be asked to make a pledge to "Make time for Young Carers", take a photo of their pledge card and send it to East lothian Council to be shared to Young Carers.
EL Young Carers: www.eastlothian.gov.uk/youngcarers
Susan Kerr (Knox’s Young Carers Youth Worker): firstname.lastname@example.org