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Young carers across the UK are in danger of not getting the most out of their education or fulfilling their life ambition because they are caring for a family member, a new Carers Trust survey reveals.

More than half (53%) of the young adult carers surveyed were having problems coping with school work and nearly 60% say they are struggling to meet deadlines. A third said they have to skip school most weeks.

Young people are suffering a range of set-backs in pursuing their goals, with 82% of young adult carers reporting stress and 73% saying they have to take precious time off school and learning specifically to care for a family member.

This new data has been released today to mark the annual Young Carers Awareness Day, organised by Carers Trust, the UK’s largest charity for unpaid carers. This year’s theme is “When I Grow Up” and focuses on the dreams and ambitions of young carers and how difficult it can be for them to achieve them.

A worrying picture is emerging, revealing the extent to which their caring role is severely affecting their future choices.

A female young adult carer commented:

“I wanted to be like everyone else and go to university, but I suffered a breakdown, and only achieved the lowest grade in my degree. I couldn’t go far from my parents as I had responsibilities and their lives really went to s**t with me not being there to run the house. I haven’t gone back to live there as it is too hoarded and it is no good for my mental health but their struggle is far greater now which brings me a lot of guilt”.

There are an estimated 700,000 children and young people across the UK, some as young as five-years-old, who are caring for family members. Research shows this is a conservative figure as many are hidden from view.  Most care for a parent or other close family member, day in, day out, and shockingly, at least 13,000 young carers are providing care for over 50 hours a week on top of their studies.

While a male young carer said being a carer made it more of a challenge to achieve his dream job: “Because I became a carer during my GCSE’s which resulted in me having anxiety and depression, so my focus in school and in lessons went down. And most of the time due to my self-harm and anxiety problems I wouldn’t go to my lessons.”

Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive of Carers Trust, said:

“Our new survey data paints a very worrying picture for the hundreds of thousands of young carers across the UK, if the right support and guidance isn’t in place.

“Being a young carer should not mean that a child’s future hopes, dreams, and ambitions are shattered. We know young carers miss or cut short on average 10 weeks of school a year as a direct result of their caring role, and those aged between 16 and 18 years are twice as likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET)

“We must make sure young carers get the support they need so they can enjoy their childhoods like any other young person and achieve their ambitions. On Young Carers Awareness Day, Carers Trust wants to reach hidden young carers up and down the UK, who desperately need our help.”

The aim of Carers Trust’s Young Carers Awareness Day is to raise awareness of the plight of these children. Carers Trust is asking people to spot the signs of caring, such as being late or absent from school or behavioural issues. Swift identification of young carers will ensure they get vital support.

Carer Support Wiltshire, a network partner of Carers Trust provides support to young adult carers in Wiltshire.

If you are aged 16-25 and would like to talk to someone, telephone 0800 181 4118.