What is a young carer?
A young carer is the name given to someone under the age of 18 who has to look after a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or has problems with the way they use drugs or alcohol. Young carers don’t get paid for this responsibility.
If you’re a young carer reading this article, you deserve a real round of applause and we are thrilled to have you as a First News reader.
Imagining what day-to-day life is like for a young carer is really difficult, as every case is different. But one thing can be said about all young carers, like Amy on our front page: they work around the clock to help their families, who rely on their care.
In the eyes of many young carers, they play the adult role in their families. Young carers are just young people – with caring responsibilities. They look the same as everyone else but they can lead very different lives.
So what might a young carer do? The role varies, but can include cooking and shopping for the family, helping someone out of bed or helping them get dressed, managing the family budget and even collecting prescriptions (to name just a few).
Think about who is in charge of these roles in your house. If you’re not a young carer, the chances are it’s your mum, dad or guardian; not you.
Young Carers Awareness Day falls on Thursday 28 January and it has a single purpose: to make a noise about these 700,000 unsung heroes.
The annual day is organised by the charity Carers Trust. This year they want to get everyone talking about the thousands of carers who are so often unidentified, and who miss out on vital support that they are entitled to. They want to tell the world who young carers are, what they do and what they have missed out on in their childhoods as a result of their caring role.
But how can you help? Well, reading this page is a good start! Spreading awareness can be as easy as starting a conversation with your friends, class or family about young carers. If you didn’t know what a young carer was before reading this article, that means there’s a chance your friends don’t know much about them either – you can now change that this week.
To learn more about Young Carers Awareness Day, visit www.carers.org. If you’re a young carer who would like to connect with other young carers.