Young carers are children and young people under the age of 18 who provide regular or ongoing care and/or emotional support to a family member. They may be involved in the care of an adult or child in their family affected by one or more of the following:
- a physical disability or sensory impairment
- a long term illness
- mental ill health
- problematic substance misuse
- a learning disability
The term Young Adult Carer is used for young people aged 16 to 24 taking on similar responsibilities.
Young carers and young adult carers become vulnerable when the level of care giving and responsibility to the person in need of care becomes excessive or inappropriate for that young person, risking impacting on his or her emotional or physical well-being or educational achievement and life chances.
Facts and Figures
- It is estimated that there are 7000 young carers in Gloucestershire
- Research indicates that 1:12 young people in UK secondary schools are either impacted by family ill health or carry a caring responsibility
- The average age of young carers is 12 years
Pip & Cait’s Story
His brother George has multiple disabilities including severe learning disabilities, Cerebral Palsy and epilepsy. His CAM worker noticed that Harry was quiet and possibly introverted so referred him to Gloucestershire Young Carers who carried out an assessment and recommended he attend one of the charity’s respite groups – then running weekly in Cheltenham.
Mum Kerry says: “He was very quiet around George. I think they were worried about him. The charity also allocated him a befriender who would take him out as a break from home life. He would come back a little happier every time. We definitely saw a difference.”
Eventually, after attending group, Harry was recommended to attend the Forum, a group of young carers who act as the ‘voice’ of their peers. He has, during his time with the Forum, been involved in developing strategies for partner agencies, has met with key members of society including major funders and even presented a bouquet to the Duchess of Gloucester during her visit to the charity.
Kerry says: “Being involved in the Forum has definitely given him more confidence. He comes home so excited about being involved. He loves it.”
Harry was himself diagnosed with learning difficulties when he was young but mum Kerry says he has not received as much attention or support from health workers as George because his condition is less obvious. He has attended a special needs school for 8 years. Recently the full extent of his learning difficulties has become apparent. But he is proud of the work he does with young carers.
One high profile funder recently said: “My wife and I committed to supporting the charity after meeting Harry. He was so clear in telling us what Gloucestershire Young Carers had done for him. We were so impressed with him.”
Harry was also involved in the making of a video which supported a successful application by the Charity for the GSK Impact Award. The charity subsequently became the overall winners for 2014.
While Gloucestershire Young Carers appreciate the part Harry plays in fundraising and awareness raising, Kerry says: “Going out and speaking to people, well, Harry really gets a lot out of it in terms of building his confidence and he loves it.”
Today Harry is participating in a project run by the Aston Project, working on his memory issues with their Chess Club but he is still in touch with Gloucestershire Young Carers and his family are happy to help out when they can.
Mum has been diagnosed with ME and Dad with Epilepsy. Harry’s younger brother Arthur also has learning difficulties which means that every member of the family has an issue to deal with. Kerry tells of how proud she was to see Harry and Arthur participate in a music concert recently.
She says: “Everyone tells me Harry is sociable but I don’t see that – perhaps because I don’t have the opportunity to see him outside of our family home. But I am glad he has fun when he is with Gloucestershire Young Carers.”