What is a young carer?

A young carer is someone under 18 who helps look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol.

The tasks and level of caring undertaken by young carers can vary according to the nature of the illness or disability, the level and frequency of need for care and the structure of the family as a whole.

A young carer may undertake some or all of the following:

  • practical tasks such as cooking, housework, shopping
  • physical care such as lifting, helping up the stairs and physiotherapy
  • personal Care such as dressing, washing and helping someone go to the toilet
  • emotional support such as listening, calming someone and being present
  • household management such as paying the bills, managing finances and collecting benefits
  • looking after siblings such as putting to be and walking to school
  • interpreting for parents with hearing or speech impediments or English as an additional language
  • Administering medication such as insulin needles and preparing daily tablets.

According to the 2011 census there are 177,918 young carers under 18 in the UK, but a survey by the BBC suggests the number is in fact much higher – closer to 700,000.

Contact your local carer service

Many Carers Trust's local Network Partners support young carers. Find your nearest one here or search for carers or young carers plus the name of the town or county you live in.

Lili's story

Lili, aged 6, shares her experience as a young carer, caring for her mother and how Barnet Carers Centre helps her deal with being a young carer.