Young Carers Action Day 2022

A survey to mark Young Carer’s Action Day reveals how an alarming lack of support, coupled with a dramatic rise in time spent caring, is leaving thousands of young carers across the UK feeling ‘lonely’, ‘burned out’ and ‘stressed’.

The findings are published today to mark Young Carers Action Day, an annual event led by Carers Trust, that Crossroads and Dudley Young Carers are supporting  to raise awareness of young carers and the challenges they face.

Stats from Carer’s Trust show more than half (53%) of the young carers (aged 18 or under) and young adult carers (aged 16-25) had to increase the amount of time they spend supporting siblings and parents in the last year.

And one in five of those reporting an increase said they were caring for as much as 20 to 49 hours more per week.

Even before Coronavirus, pressures on the health and social care services meant increasing levels of caring responsibilities were falling too heavily on young carers’ shoulders.

It’s thought there could be more than a million young carers in the UK. The survey results show some of the issues they’re facing:

  • At least a third of respondents said their caring role resulted in them either ‘always’ or ‘usually’ feeling ‘worried’ (36%), ‘lonely’ (33%) or ‘stressed’ (42%)
  • 40% of young carers and young adult carers said they ‘never’ or ‘not often’ had someone to talk to at school about being a young carer.
  • 52% of young carers and young adult carers said they ‘never’ or ‘not often’ got support from their school, college or university in balancing study with their caring role.

The impact of this overwhelming burden of responsibility was made clear in many of the written responses to the survey. One young carer said, “It’s harder than anyone understands and I feel like I’m drowning”.

Carers Trust CEO, Kirsty McHugh, said: ‘These stark findings underline the plight of young carers. Too many are left unsupported, struggling to access the services they need with knock on effects to their education, mental health and well-being.

‘We need more investment in social care generally and local care organisations specifically to relieve young carers of the overwhelming pressure so many are under. In addition, the NHS must ensure its mental health services prioritise young carer support. Otherwise young carers will continue to be left alone to cope with complex problems and responsibilities that would overwhelm most adults, let alone young people.’

Carer’s Trust has made a series of recommendations to support the work of young carers, through the UK government, and devolved administrations.

Action includes:

  • More respite breaks for young carers and young adult carers. Carer’s Trust says local carer organisations who provide dedicated young carer and young adult carer services are well placed to deliver these, in partnership with local authorities and the wider voluntary sector.
  • Better monitoring and identifying of Young Carers at a local level, including offering funded support packages.
  • Introduction of a more integrated approach between schools, colleges and universities working alongside NHS, local authorities and local carer organisations.

The Dudley Young Carers team provide free, confidential one-to-one support with a dedicated worker, school and general wellbeing support, youth clubs, activities in the school holidays and much more, to help young carers from Dudley, aged between 5 – 18 years old, to access the support they need and to take a break from their caring role.

Dudley Young Carers is part of the Dudley Carers Wellbeing Service at Crossroads, who provide a wellbeing service for carers of all ages throughout the Dudley borough, on behalf of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. To find out more about Dudley Carers Wellbeing Service or make a referral call 01384 886 429 or visit their page.

If you’re a young carer, or know someone who is, there is a range of advice and links to support services on the Carer’s Trust website.