How UK Youth members support Young Carers

25 January 2018

  • Blog

By Jamie Fernandes from Young Devon. Young Devon are part of the wider UK Youth network and work closely with a variety of young people, including young carers. You can find them on Facebook or Twitter

The life of a young carer is very different to that of the average young person. Childhood, and all the wonderful learning curves that form us are skipped, the crucial time of development, to be who we can be in this world. Young carers behave beyond their years; they carry the emotional and physical burden of looking after someone that they love.

So what is a young carer?  They are someone under the age of 18 who looks after another person who is ill, disabled or a sufferer of drug misuse. There are over 700,000 young carers in the UK alone, equivalent to 1 in 12 secondary aged pupils.  The average young carer is 13, but with some as young as 5, their mental health is at serious risk.

The responsibility of caring at a young age can adversely affect the important things associated with growing up. A social life becomes non-existent and self-confidence is shattered. Instead of meeting with friends, or engaging in after school activities, 1 in 3 young carers spend 11 to 20 hours each week caring. In fact, 1 in 20 will miss school completely.

Many young carers struggle to balance their education and caring; a survey of 350 young carers showed that 48% were stressed because of their role. The life of the average teenager is complicated enough without these added extras. Questions of normality, emotional strain and physical excursion, can lead to behavioural repercussions; 26% of young carers admitted to being bullies.

Having the right support can make the biggest difference to the life of a young carer. 39% of young carers said that nobody in school were aware of their situation at home; which can lead to feelings of isolation and neglect. It is important that young carers know there are people they can approach and people there to help.

Young Devon are always here for any young person who needs us. We provide a number of support networks for young carers to interact with one another and show them they are not alone. We also offer Early Help For Mental Health, Counselling and Mentoring programs to help in the personalised way necessary for that young person. With the right support, young people can learn and develop skills being a young carer. It shouldn’t be something that takes over their life or steals their youth; they should have time to be a young person and Young Devon are here to make that happen.

You can find a list of UK Youth members by going here

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