There are many myths and rumours about caring and being a young carer.
Lots of people and young carers themselves aren’t quite sure what being a young carer actually means. So it can be confusing enough let alone if you’re worried about things you’ve heard or read, or are unsure if you even are a young carer at all.
Here on our myth busting page we want to ease your worries! Read on to find out the facts of being a young carer.
What actually is a young carer? Am I a young carer?
A young carer is anyone under eighteen years old that looks after someone, like a family member or a friend, because they are ill, disabled, or they misuse drugs or alcohol.
Being a young carer can look very different depending on the person, it might mean helping someone get in and out of bed, doing the washing and cooking, or it might be being there for someone when they are upset and reminding them to take their medication or go to doctor appointments.
Are there lots of young carers out there?
Carers Trust found that there are about 700,000 young carers in the UK! That’s a lot of young people caring for someone as well as going to school and looking after themselves.
Being a young carer can have a huge impact on growing up – and many young carers don’t know that they can get support to help make their lives and their caring roles easier to manage.
Is it true you’re only a carer if the person you look after is related to you or lives in your house?
No! Although many young carers often care for someone who lives in the same house as them, young carers might sometimes care for someone who doesn’t – like a Grandma or Uncle that lives a few roads away. A young carer who looks after someone not living in their house may still help with lots of different things, like checking in on someone, getting their shopping or medication and dropping it off, or popping over to clean up the house and spend some time with them. Everyone’s caring role is different!
Is it true that if I tell a teacher at school that I am a young carer, the person I care for might get in trouble?
Young carers often worry if they tell someone they are a carer, they could get the person they care for in trouble or think that the young carer themselves might get taken away. But the thing is – by reaching out and telling someone you are a young carer means that they can find you the support you need to make your life a bit easier, and in turn, get the help the person you care for might need to make their lives easier too.
It really is best to reach out and get some help – especially because your teacher might not know that you are a young carer until you tell them and could be expecting you to be able to do everything your friends can do. Sometimes your caring role could make it difficult to do your homework or if the person you look after becomes ill you might need to take the day off.
You are not alone
If you have any other worries that haven’t been mentioned here, you can call us and speak to someone on 0800 181 4118. You can also speak to your teacher at school, or someone else you trust like a doctor or a family friend and tell them that you think you might be a young carer. Young people and parents can now also self refer for an assessment, on 0300 4560108 or by email.