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What is a Young Carer?
Young carers are children and young people aged between 5 – 18 years old whose lives are in some way different or restricted because they provide, or intend to provide, practical or emotional support to someone else. The person they provide care for is often a parent, or a relative who is physically or mentally ill, frail elderly, disabled or misuses alcohol or substances. Young carers could also be supporting and caring for a disabled brother or sister.
Being a young carer can mean that sometimes it can be difficult managing all the things they feel they have to do and all the things they would like to do. This can affect young people in different ways. Sometimes a young carer may struggle to keep up with their schoolwork, or not feel able to join in after school activities alongside their peers. They can feel tired and sometimes stressed and worried about the person they care for, as they fear that something might happen to them when they are not close by to keep an eye on them or directly caring for them. It is not surprising that they can get distracted and this makes it all the more difficult to concentrate on schoolwork and homework. Also, young carers may forget to look after themselves or feel that they are not being properly looked after, such as not having a balanced diet, not eating regularly or sleeping properly or getting enough exercise.
It can also seem like others do not really understand what it is like to be a young carer, especially to school friends, and this can make a young carer feel vulnerable and unhappy. Young carers may also be the victims of bullying and siblings report that they are sometimes embarrassed by their brother or sister’s behaviour in public, mostly because of the way other people reacted.