Already, there’s probably some of you thinking, what IS a young carer? Without directly quoting Google, a young carer is a child, or young person who looks after someone with a physical, or mental disability. This is an umbrella term, because a lot of people think young carer and see the stereotype of looking after a parent, often in a wheelchair or with another physical disability. It’s so much more. There’s mental disabilities, there’s substance abuse, there’s so many different things to being a young carer. And they can also care for other family members, even siblings. It doesn’t just have to be a parent.
There are hundreds of thousands of young carers in the United Kingdom alone, and so many more worldwide. It’s a tiresome battle, but they’re not alone. With the support of friends, family, school and work, that’s half the battle.
Being a young carer myself, if I could give any words of wisdom to people on what to do in order to help, all I would ask is to listen. We need someone to talk to, and sometimes things at home can get a bit too much. A rant, a listening ear. And compassion from work and teaching staff. Although there is some understanding, they should all be aware.
Although there are negatives, in the last 5 years, so much awareness has been raised about young carers, in Scotland there’s even a grant for those between 16-18 with a caring responsibility. If you actually are a young carer, there are loads of online forums that are helpful, teachers and bosses can help, and there are Young Carers support groups, not as cliche as it sounds. My group changed my life for the better.
Just remember, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. And if you aren’t actually a young carer, just try your best to support us. It goes a long way.