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Information for carers: Young Carers

A young carer is a child or young person under the age of 18 whose life is restricted because of the need to take care of a sick or disabled relative

Young carers take on practical and/or emotional caring responsibilities that would normally be expected of an adult. There are at least 175,000 young carers in the UK.

Some worries of young carers

  • Can I catch the illness? Will it happen to me?
  • What caused it? Was it my fault? Why us?
  • Can I do anything to make him/her better?
  • Will he/she get worse or even die?
  • Who then will look after me?
  • How do I cope with all these difficult feelings?
  • If I tell anyone such as my teacher will I go into care?
  • What do we do for money?
  • What should I do in an emergency?

All of these are normal and common and you may have more.

What can help?

Talk

Talk to some one such as your parents, another family member, your favourite teacher, your friends. This can feel risky but sometimes taking a risk can pay off. Think about whom you can trust. You may want to write down what you would like to say. The social worker at St Christopher’s could also see you and he/she will understand what you are feeling as they meet many young carers. The St Christopher’s nurse will be able to put you in touch. We run some group events for young carers which give you an opportunity to meet other young people in a similar situation. If you are interested in these, please ask your St Christopher’s nurse or social worker.

Young Carers Project

There is one in each Borough – see end of section. Here you can meet other young carers. They offer fun days and evenings out and some one to listen. They can also offer information to the rest of your family, for example financial advice.

The internet

Remember it is important to be safe when using chatrooms. Agree rules with your parents about what you can and can’t do on the internet. This will save arguments later. Don’t use your real name or give personal information such as your address or phone number.

Social Services

Carers who are 16 or over have the right to a Carer’s Assessment and some boroughs will assess you if you are younger. This is your opportunity to explain what is happening at home and your worries and to see if you can get more help. You will need to see a social worker or care manager. The person you are caring for may have one or you can ask the St Christopher’s social worker or some one else can get the Social Services telephone number from the telephone directory.

School

If your teachers know you are looking after someone at home they may be more understanding and try to help. Some young carers find it easier if their parent informs the school. It is important the school is aware and it may have a school counsellor you can meet. It may be that you are being bullied as sometimes young carers can be seen as different. No one should put up with bullies.

Looking after yourself

All carers need to re-charge their batteries! What helps you feel less stressed? It may be exercise such as football, drawing (you could draw or paint a picture to show how you feel), listening to music, talking with friends or just being quiet and peaceful.

The information below is taken from the St Christopher’s Hospice Home Care information book (PDF) which is given to all home care patients.

The information below is taken from the St Christopher’s Hospice Home Care information book (PDF) which is given to all home care patients

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