Young Carers’ Action Day - 16th March 2022
By Saoirse Osborne
A young carer is anyone under 18 who helps to look after a relative with a mental or physical illness, addiction, or disability. We think of care as only for the elderly or physically disabled. But in fact, 55% of young carers look after someone with mental illness.
Their work goes unpaid and too often unsupported – on average, young carers spend four years taking on caring responsibilities before being identified for support.
The burden of care can be a heavy one for the young shoulders on which it falls. Over half of young carers say it has a negative impact on their mental health, friendships, and their futures. Caring responsibilities force 10% of young carers to drop out of secondary school, and another 15% to leave university.
Caring for someone with mental illness might sound less physically demanding than caring for someone with a physical disability, but it can have just as severe an impact on children’s lives. Around 27% of young carers reported that their responsibilities impinged upon their education – that figure rises to 40% for those caring for someone with mental illness or addiction.
It is estimated that there are 700,000 young carers in the UK – barely a quarter of which are actually receiving support. Too many children are having to sacrifice their own future for someone else’s present.
Young carers are often protective of their role. But they shouldn’t feel pressured to abandon their own future to care for a family member simply because they feel they have no other option.
It’s often assumed that vulnerable people will receive government support, whether that’s an offer of permanent supported accommodation or home visits from support workers. The fact that so many children are left alone with the burden of care shows that this is not the case.
Hammersley Homes can help take on some of this responsibility, to offer supported homes for people living with mental illness, and offering much-needed respite for the amazing carers who support their loved ones. We must make sure that charities, like Hammersley Homes, can provide support to all those who need it. The lives of not only vulnerable people, but also those of their children and families, are at stake.
You can read more about young carers and the support they should (but often don’t) receive here: https://www.barnardos.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/Still%20Hidden%20Still%20Ignored%20Barnardo%27s%20young%20carers%20report.pdf
Or learn about Young Carers’ Action Day at
You can also find out about our services and vision for supported housing at Hammersley Homes, and how you can help, here: https://hammersleyhomes.org