A young carer is anyone who is under the age of 18, and who looks after a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled, or misuses substances. This could be a parent, grandparent, brother, or sister.
A young carer may be carrying out tasks such as household chores such as washing, cooking, and cleaning on behalf of the whole family. They may provide personal or nursing care like giving medication, changing dressings, assisting with mobility, or intimate care such as washing, dressing, assisting with toilet requirements, or giving emotional support. This can feel stressful or overwhelming at times. Sometimes you may feel under pressure to take time off school to help around the house, or may not have time to go out with your friends, do homework, or play.
Many young carers find it difficult to talk about being a carer. They worry that people will think they aren't coping, or that their family will be split up if they don't carry on with their caring role.
But it's important to understand there are health and social care charities and organisations who can help and support you, so you can balance your responsibilities with your personal life, and not miss out on things.
If you're interested in finding out about council support for young carer's, see the Young Carer's Assessment page.
Other information and advice
Carers UK is a charity set up to help the millions of people who look after an older, disabled, or seriously ill family member or friend.
Carers Trust has information about local support, money, and benefits.
Healthwatch Essex has some advice young carers might find useful, in their guide to health and well-being for young people. The Useful contacts button on that page has a good list of local and national organisations that are keen to support young carers.
The NHS has partnered with Public Health England, Carers UK, Carers Trust, and Age UK, to produce a guide for carers called A Practical Guide to Healthy Caring. This guide is for anyone looking after a family member or friend, or who has some kind of caring responsibility. It covers a wide range of subjects from what it's like to care for someone, to assessments, getting help, and useful technology.
The Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) has some useful resources for carers, and provides free courses across Essex which help carers manage their caring role. For further information visit the Support for Carers page on the EPUT website.
Essex Libraries offer a variety of services and activities that may benefit carers. If you find it difficult to get to the library, you could receive the Home Library Service, or ask about a Friends and Family card. Alternatively, access e-books, e-audio, e-magazines and online resources at a time to suit you, from wherever you are. Many libraries hold regular drop-in sessions, advice desks and social activities; have a look at the events list for the latest information. Libraries also have booklists that you might find useful if you are caring for someone with dementia, mental health problems or long-term conditions.
Local Community and Voluntary Sector Groups
Supporting Carers in Essex provide support services to unpaid carers in the Essex area. You can call them on 03007 708090, or email: email@example.com
Essex Carers Support provide advice, information, guidance, and advocacy. 01255 474410 is the number to ring.