Today (30 January) is Young Carers Awareness Day – a day where we give thanks for all the amazing hard work that young carers around the country do, and raise awareness of the issues and challenges facing them.
Every day, across the country, thousands of young people are helping to take care of a family member or friend who has a disability, illness or mental health condition.
WHAT IS A YOUNG CARER?
Anyone under the age of 18 who takes on these responsibilities is known as a young carer, and it’s estimated that one in five young people have a caring role in the UK, and in Scotland, there are around 29,000 young carers.
The care provided may take many different forms. Young carers may have to:
- Carry out additional chores at home, such as helping to clean the house, cook meals and do the food shopping.
- Help with personal care, such as getting dressed, washing or eating.
- Provide physical care, such as getting in and out of bed, or helping in and out of a wheelchair.
- Take on the responsibility of managing the house’s finances, and paying bills.
- Look after siblings.
- Offer emotional support.
- Take time out of school to carry out their caring responsibilities.
The additional responsibilities that come with being a young carer can affect a young person’s health, social life and self-confidence.
And, for 39 per cent of young carers, no one at school is aware of their caring role, meaning they’re not getting support from their teachers, and more importantly, their friends.
In fact, 26 per cent of young carers have been bullied because of their caring role, and one in 20 have had to take time out of school to care for their loved one.
For many young carers, they simply wish their peers and others in the wider community understood the additional responsibilities they have, and the effect it can have on them, which is why events such as Young Carers Awareness Day are so important.