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Supporting People Living With Special Needs and Disabilities ~ Connecting people, Changing lives…

Young carers

Who are  Young Carers?

Several definitions of a ‘young carer’ exist in current legislation and guidance. In 1995, the Social Services Inspectorate defined a young carer as: “A child or young person (under age 18) who is carrying out significant caring tasks and assuming a level of responsibility for another person, which would usually be taken by an adult.” (Department of Health, 1995, Chief Inspector letter C1 (95)12)

The Carers’ (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 uses the definition: “Children and young people (under 18) who provide or intend to provide a substantial amount of care on a regular basis.” A detailed discussion of the existing legislation used to define young carers can be found in Baker (PRTC, 2002). It concludes that “current legislation, even the most recent, does little to stop or support children caring for a relative at home”.

In 1998, the Carers National Association (now Carers UK) defined a young carer as: “anyone under the age of 18 whose life is in some way restricted because of the need to take responsibility for the care of someone who is ill, has a disability, is experiencing mental distress, or is affected by substance misuse.” This last definition highlights the importance of taking into account not only the extent and nature of caring but also the actual or potential impact it has on the young carer. Another definition - “A young carer is someone of 16 years of age or younger, who because of a parent’s disability undertakes essential and perhaps non-essential caring tasks (personal care, housework, fetching and carrying) over and above what would normally be expected of their peer group. They may also be undertaking this role willingly, or through necessity because the disabled parent is not receiving this assistance from social services, or from a responsible adult.

Young Carers enjoy the Bright Futures week holiday

Young Carers enjoy the Bright Futures week holiday

A ‘disabled parent’ can also include a parent with a drug or alcohol addiction, or long-term illness.”

ASNA recognises the needs of young carers and in response to this need, has developed the Bright Futures project enabling families to feel supported.

YC are at risk of social exclusion as a result of their duties. Young carers are also likely to experience economic problems due to missed school opportunities as a result of  their caring responsibilities. This project aims to give YC an opportunity to meet with other YC in similar situations. Here they will share experiences, feel supported, receive advice on future plans, make new friends and have fun!

“What do young carers say about having a brother or sister with a disability?”

“The experience of having a brother or sister with a disability ivaries – not all disabled siblings are the same.

It’s like being a parent already.

Having a sister with a disability is like a challenge. The challenge is to be extra-nice and extra-caring. However it’s not as difficult as some people think. Some siblings can communicate and care for themselves to an extent.”

“Having a brother with disability is very great because he is really bright and active and I have lots of fun. We get to do lots of things, like going on holiday and trips. I am very lucky that I have my brother; he is a child of God and God will help him get better and he might walk.”

“It’s quite hard at the start of all the drama but when you become good buddies with your sibling you begin to look at the good times instead of the bad, and understand that it’s the way it is. But it does make me think every now and again ‘why?’ and what everyone’s life would be like if he didn’t have a disability.”

What do Young Carers say about the Bright Futures project?

What I enjoyed most and why?

“The beach – because I haven’t been on a beach since I was two years old.”

“Splash down Get down – high ropes, beach, splash down, bowling .. everything.”

“Everything – meeting new people. This week was great”

“The way everyone got on with one another/looked after each other.”

"The group discussion sessions really made me think about the importance of developing my personal character"

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