Being a young carer

Are you a young carer?

If you are under the age of 18, and you spend time looking after someone who is ill, then you are a young carer.

As a young carer, you might do extra things to help your family – things that your friends might not be doing. For example, you might:

  • clean the house
  • do the food shopping
  • make cups of tea
  • fetch things for the person with cancer, for example their slippers
  • go out with the person who is ill, for example to help them with shopping
  • do the laundry
  • make dinner
  • wash the dishes
  • look after your brothers or sisters.

You may also do other things for the person who has cancer. You might help them get dressed, give them their medicines or change their bandages.

As well as helping with practical things, you might also care for them emotionally. You might comfort them when they are upset, or be there to listen when they need to talk. When you are not with them, you may worry about them.

How being a young carer can change things

Being a young carer can affect your life in many ways. It can make you feel different, but that’s okay. You may find that you can’t concentrate at school or college, and that you don’t have as much time to study. It might be hard to keep in touch with your friends. Or you may have to cancel plans to look after the person who has cancer. Sometimes it can feel like being a carer has taken over your life.

You may also be worried about what is happening at home. You may feel angry with the person you are looking after. Or you may feel like you are not being given enough attention, and then feel guilty for feeling that way. But it is important to look after your own mental and physical health, as well as the person you are looking after.

Being a young carer can be really hard. It can feel like a big responsibility. But positive things can also come out of the experience. You may become closer to the person you look after, learn new skills and feel more grown-up.

It was hard because some of the things I wanted to do I couldn’t, because I had to help at home.


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Young carer's assessment

Any young carer can have a young carer’s assessment to find out what help you and your family might need.