Young carers are children and young people (up to the age of 18) whose lives are being affected by looking after someone with a disability or a long term illness. The person they care for may be a parent, a sibling, another family member or a friend, who does not necessarily live in the same house as them. “Disability” refers to actual or perceived physical, sensory, emotional or learning impairment, long-term illness, HIV, drug or alcohol dependence, mental health problems, frailty or old age.
The 2001 census shows that there were 176,000 young careers in the UK, 1000 of which were from Hull.
Young carers may be carrying out significant or substantial caring tasks and assuming a level of responsibility which is inappropriate to their age. Caring tasks can involve physical or emotional care, or taking responsibility for someone’s safety or well-being. The impact of taking on an inappropriate caring role can include underachievement or absenteeism at school, mental or physical ill health. Young carers do not always recognise themselves as being ‘carers’.
They may see their role as something they should be doing for that family member, or that they really want to be doing. Young carers need to be differentiated from those children and young people who share some of their circumstances but cannot be defined as young carers. Not every child whose parent/sibling is ill or disabled is necessarily a young carer.
Primary and secondary carers
Young carers may be primary or secondary carers. By primary carer, it is meant that there is no other adult or young person assuming the main caring role. Being a secondary carer means that there is another parent, adult or sibling who assumes the primary caring role.
However, It is sometimes the case that a child presents as a secondary carer when in fact he/she is the primary carer because in many families, the main carer has to work to support the family and may be absent from the house for significant periods of time.
In other situations the responsible adult presenting as the primary carer is suffering mental health problems or has turned to substance abuse as a way of coping. This means the young person presenting as a secondary carer is a primary carer and may be taking on the responsibilities of two adults.
Help and support
The children and young people's service offers support to young carers and their parents. We have put a policy and protocols in place to help and young carers.
Access the policy and protocols to find out more
There is also support from the NCH Hull and East Riding Young Carers Project which is managed by NCH and funded jointly by Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council. The council's social services team can also refer young carers to the Barnardo’s sibling support service.
Visit the Barnardo's website for more information (link opens in a new window)