Today (30 January) is Young Carers Awareness Day – a day where we give thanks for all the amazing hard work that young carers around the country do, and raise awareness of the issues and challenges facing them.
Every day, across the country, thousands of young people are helping to take care of a family member or friend who has a disability, illness or mental health condition.
WHAT IS A YOUNG CARER?
Anyone under the age of 18 who takes on these responsibilities is known as a young carer, and it’s estimated that one in five young people have a caring role in the UK.
In Scotland, there are around 29,000 young carers, meaning your friends, peers and classmates may have caring responsibilities without you even knowing.
The care provided may take many different forms. Young carers may have to:
- Carry out additional chores at home, such as helping to clean the house, cook meals and do the food shopping.
- Help with personal care, such as getting dressed, washing or eating.
- Provide physical care, such as getting in and out of bed, or helping in and out of a wheelchair.
- Take on the responsibility of managing the house’s finances, and paying bills.
- Look after siblings.
- Offer emotional support.
- Take time out of school to carry out their caring responsibilities.
The additional responsibilities that come with being a young carer can affect a young person’s health, social life and self-confidence.
And, for 39 per cent of young carers, no one at school is aware of their caring role, meaning they’re not getting support from their teachers, and more importantly, their friends.
In fact, 26 per cent of young carers have been bullied because of their caring role, and one in 20 have had to take time out of school to care for their loved one.
For many young carers, they simply wish their peers understood the additional responsibilities they have, and the effect it can have on them, which is why events such as Young Carers Awareness Day are so important.
If you are a young carer, it’s important to know that support is available, and you’re not alone. Charities such as Carers Trust and Carers Scotland provide valuable support, and can connect you with local services who can provide additional tailored advice and help.
You never know what is going on with someone behind closed doors, or the pressures they’re facing that you don’t see. This is why it’s so important to treat everyone with kindness and respect every day of the year, not just Young Carers Awareness Day – but it’s a good place to start.