Where can you go for help and support if you're a young carer?
When we were helping care for someone with cancer, we weren’t too sure how to get information about cancer, or about being a young carer.
Written by people who've been in your shoes
The advice in this section has been written by people who are under 18 and caring for someone with cancer. You can download their complete handbook - A guide for young people looking after someone with cancer [PDF, 2.52 MB].
We went on the internet and searched for things, but we often ended up on random websites that gave us no information.
That’s why at college a few of us started our own support groups. We wanted a way to share information, and to help each other cope with the different feelings we were having.
These groups are a really good way to relax and chill out. They give you a chance to meet up with other young people like you - people who understand you, and who will be there for you on the bad days as well as the good ones.
Your school or college may already have a support group. Or your local council might have set one up. Ask around, or look online to see whether there’s one in your area. There are some website addresses that can help you do this at the back of this booklet . Support groups aren’t scary - they’re fun. Most of the time we sit around chatting and being ridiculous. Sometimes we talk about cancer, but not always.
If there isn’t a support group that you can go to locally, you can set one up. That’s what we did. And now support groups like ours are being set up right across the country.
Macmillan can help you start your own support group, with advice, training and grants.
You could also encourage your school to set up a support group. Your teachers can get help doing this from the Carers Trust website.
Young carers’ projects
These projects are here to help you. They are run by young carers’ workers and offer:
- a chance for you to have a break and do something fun
- opportunities to talk to other young carers
- the chance to speak with someone who’ll listen to you and who is on your side
- help, information and advice for your whole family.
Visit the Children’s Society website to find your local branch and a project near you.
Your family might have been given a social worker, to help you all cope with caring for someone who has cancer. Social workers are a really good source of information. If you have any questions or worries, you can talk to them.
Your social worker is there to make sure that, as a young person, you’re being protected and supported at home. You may be able to have an assessment with your social worker. This isn’t a test - it’s just a chat to find out what kind of extra support you may need. It could be useful, for example if you’re struggling to find time to go to school or meet up with your friends. The law that says you can get this assessment is called the Children Act 1989. Visit youngcarers.net for more information about assessments.
There are lots of cancer charities in the UK, and they can all give you information and support. Here are some of the main ones you may want to get in touch with:
- We at Macmillan Cancer Support offer practical, emotional and financial help for anyone affected by cancer.
- Cancer Research UK funds important research into the causes of cancer, and can give you lots of information about different types of cancer.
- Marie Curie Cancer Care provides free nursing care to people with cancer in their own home.
There are also charities for particular types of cancer, for example breast cancer or leukaemia, and charities just for young people, like the Children’s Society. All of these charities will be able to help you understand more about cancer, its treatment and side effects. They can also put you in touch with other people who are going through the same experience.
Joining an online forum can put you in touch with loads of people who are in the same situation as you. The best things about forums are that you:
- can be anonymous
- can dip in and out when you want
- don’t have to tell people anything you don’t want to
- can make new online friends.
There are plenty of forums for carers and for people affected by cancer. You can choose whatever best suits your situation. Just remember when you’re using forums that you must stay safe:
- Avoid using your real name - make up a nickname instead.
- Avoid giving out personal information, for example which school you go to or where you live.
- It isn’t a good idea to meet up with someone you’ve talked to in a forum - they may not be who they say they are.