A young carer is someone aged 18 or under who helps look after a family member who has a disability, illness, mental health condition, or a drug or alcohol problem. Most young carers help look after one of their parents, care for a brother or sister or a grandparent.
The support young carers give may include:
- practical help such as shopping, housework, cooking or looking after a sibling
- personal care for example bathing, or helping someone go to the toilet
- offering emotional support to someone who is depressed.
Often young carers will be doing a number of these things. If this sounds like you then maybe you are a carer?
It may be something you do without thinking about it and it’s just ‘what you do’.
The average age of a young carer is 12 but young carers can be anyone under 18 who provides unpaid care on a regular basis.
Support services in Derbyshire for young carers
Derbyshire Young Carer Support Service – the service is provided by Derbyshire Carers Associaton. Follow the link to find out how they can help support you with all sorts of things including your education, social life and getting a break or call tel: 01773 833833
Derbyshire School Nurse Service - offer support and advice to young carers, including helping you access services and making sure you are healthy.
Space 4 U - offer support to young people, including carers who are seriously affected by someone else's drug use. They offer individual support and advice on issues such as friendships, worries about family life, information on drugs and alcohol, and keeping safe. They can also offer access to First Aid training.
Counselling - some young carers just want someone to talk to. If you haven't a friend or family member that you want to talk things through with, you could try counselling services. Relate offer counselling services for young people in Derbyshire or you could use the Counselling Directory which lets you look for services near you. Or you could speak to your school nurse or doctor and ask them to refer you to a counsellor
Make sure you tell your doctor that you're a young carer as they might be able to offer support to make things easier for you and the person you look after.
Online information and helplines
The NHS Choices website has lots of information about who can help young carers as well as practical advice on how to balance being a carer with the normal things young people do, such as school work and socialising.
The Childline website has lots of really good information and advice for young carers. You can also use their helpline if you ever want to talk to someone in confidence on tel: 0800 1111
The Samaritans are waiting on the end of the phone any time of the day or night. If you need to talk, give them a call on tel: 116 123
Young carers rights - getting help
Your local council has a legal duty to assess your needs as a young carer and see what kind of help is available for you and your family. If you live in Derbyshire your local council is Derbyshire County Council.
If you have an assessment, a worker will talk about being a young carer and how you feel about your education/training, leisure/social opportunities and what you want to do in the future. They’ll ask whether you want to carry on being a young carer (it's okay if you do and it's okay if you don't) and will be able to put you in touch with services that can help support you whatever you want to do. They may also be able to arrange services to help support the person you care for.
If you haven't been assessed or if things have changed recently, you can contact Call Derbyshire on tel: 01629 533190
Why young carers shouldn't be afraid to ask for help
Many young carers provide care and support that someone of their age wouldn't usually be expected to give. If you feel like you are in this situation then it's important that you think about whether you are able to keep providing care.
You may really want to help out the person you care for because you are close to them. But as a young carer you shouldn't really be spending too much of your time caring for someone, as this can get in the way of doing well at school and doing the same kinds of things as other young people do, such as seeing friends and taking part in activities like sports.
It's important to find the right balance between your own life and caring and the services listed above can help you do that.
Caring for someone with a mental health problem
If you are looking after someone with a mental health problem you may find you have to try and support them through bouts of depression, panic attacks or bi-polar episodes. Scottish Young Carers have developed a useful guide with practical tips on how to deal with those kind of situations.
Dealing with emergencies
The 'are you a carer in crisis' page has phone numbers of people and organisations to contact in an emergency.
It's a good idea to get a plan in place for emergency situations before they happen. Derbyshire Carers Young Carers Service will be able to help you do this.
If you are looking after a close family member such as a parent, brother or sister, you may find that your caring role puts a strain on your relationship with them. Particularly if you are looking after a parent, it may make your relationship feel a little bit strange as the line between parent and child becomes a bit blurred as roles reverse.
The Carers Trust have developed a relationship guide that gives tips on how to dea with relationships including sections on caring for a sibling, caring for a parent and generally dealing with the stresses of being a carer.
Childline also has lots of advice about dealing with family relationships including looking after someone with mental health issues, dealing with death and also living in a step-family.
As a young carer you may find it helpful to get some training. This could be on things like First Aid or how to help someone move around without hurting yourself in the process - this is called 'moving and handling'. Our training for carers page has more information about courses and the Young Carer Support Service will also be able to help you find out what's available.
Other helpful websites
- The Children's Society
- Carers Trust - know your rights: support for young carers in England
- NHS Choices - young carers rights
- Rethink - support for young carers
- Carers UK - young carers practical support
- Macmillan - if someone has cancer - young carers
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