Young carer stories

Four young carers sit on a sofa smiling at the camera
  • There are 1,384 young carers (children under 16).
  • There are 3,916 young adult carers (16 to 24 years old).

Here are just a few of their stories:

Laila* is a 14-year-old young carer who is living with her mother, her 10-year-old brother and her 6-year-old sister. Laila helps to care for her younger sister who has severe, non-verbal autism, epilepsy, hypermobility, learning difficulties and developmental delay; and her mum who suffers with fibromyalgia and mental ill-health.

When our support worker met the family, they were living in a one-bedroom flat that did not meet their needs and were waiting to get more appropriate accommodation through the council. Laila was also not attending school as she struggled with the family housing situation and supporting her sister and mum.

Laila had become very isolated, she was not socialising, or spending any time at all away from home. As a result, she was missing out on education and becoming more anxious due to her isolation. Laila wanted to get support to help her return to school.

Our support worker was able to support the housing application and raise additional concerns. The housing situation deteriorated and the family had to go to emergency accommodation before they were placed into a permanent home in the summer and the family situation significantly improved. There was enough space for Laila and her brother to have their own rooms. This has significantly reduced the impact of the caring role on Laila, providing her with the space she needed to manage the balance of caring responsibilities.

Our support worker also contacted the school to discuss Laila’s difficulties in school; the support she needed and the process for Laila returning. As Laila had not been in school for 6 months she would need to reapply for a place.

Once the family had moved into the permanent home Laila then felt able to engage with one-to-one support. These sessions helped Laila explore what she felt her barriers to education had been, and how she felt she might be able to change things on returning to school. With support, Laila wrote a school plan, which she called ‘Measures which may help me to manage y10’.

Laila also wrote a school statement, where she reflected on the negative impact of being out of education for so long. She recognised the impact on her mental health and the barriers of not attending school may present to her in the future. Laila also articulated that she needed to take responsibility to engage willingly with the school.

Laila’s statement was submitted following the application to return to school. In October, Laila heard that the application had been successful. When we told Laila that her application had been successful and she could return to her school, she was overjoyed. She told us she couldn’t believe it and was so excited. 

* Not her real name

We are proud that young carer Ellie has been chosen for The Diana Award. Each year their Roll of Honour recognises the efforts of young people.

Ellie is exceptional; in the face of adversity she excels and achieves. Through her dedicated and enthusiastic work with Young Carers Voice (YCV), she has influenced strategic policy and development of services and raised awareness of young carers needs amongst her peers, her community, in education and with professionals.

Ellie’s commitment begins at home. She has cared for her brother who has Asperger’s Syndrome since she was four years old. The care Ellie provides includes helping with his nightly bedtime routine, emotional care and supporting her mum with housework. The emotional support is particularly intense at present as she is helping him with his transition to secondary school. What is so special about Ellie is that she doesn’t complain; she embraces the needs of her family and goes that
extra step.

That ‘extra step’ is her work with YCV. With training and support, YCV members gain the skills to engage in consultation, work on service development and have an opportunity to have their voice heard.

She has been an active member of the group. She got involved because she wanted to help improve life for other young carers in her local community. She is passionate due to her own personal experience of what life is like being a young carer.

Jack was 16 and in the middle of his exams when he was referred to Carers Support Centre. He cares for his mum who has hearing loss and suffers from anxiety; and at the time, his mum was about to undergo a major operation. Every young person feels stressed at important times in their education. But for Jack and other young carers like him, it is a time when the added pressure of their caring role means they are especially vulnerable and in need of support. He said he felt like he was
at ‘breaking point’.

One of our team got in touch with Jack’s college so his teachers were aware of his situation and could help with a flexible learning plan. He came to our group activities for young adult carers and joined our Caring with Confidence programme. This is a training course, held over 5 sessions, which empowers young adult carers with the knowledge and skills to look after themselves as well as the person they care for. Jack also benefited from support in writing his CV and this helped him get a job that he is really enjoying.

We are delighted that Jack is also volunteering with us. He will be helping conduct a transport review to look at the best way to make our young carers activities accessible to everyone. Jack said, “I am really excited about taking on this project. It’s a chance for me to use my skills, make a difference and will look great on my CV!”

Jack continues to be supported in his education through our partnership with University of West of England. Through this, he is able to access one-to-one impartial advice and guidance on university courses and applications.

Jack’s story highlights how important early identification of young carers is. When carers receive support at important times in their life it can make a crucial difference.

Ryan is 11 years old. He cares for his mum who has long-term mental health conditions and his two brothers who both have autistic spectrum disorder. When we began working with Ryan he was feeling low and frustrated. He was missing out on activities and opportunities and feeling isolated. Ryan’s mum told us that he would often ‘bear the brunt’ of her emotions due to the stresses of their family life.

Ryan came along to our Heroes Group. This is for 8-12 year olds to help raise self-esteem, learn coping strategies and build relationships through creative and fun activities.

However, Ryan was anxious and found it difficult to join in with the other children. With some extra support, he decided to ‘try again’. His determination and courage meant that his summer has been one to remember.

Ryan has benefited from one-to-one support with our young carers family support worker and he has joined in with our activities. He has been to the Peoples Kitchen and learned how to cook a healthy meal, and enjoyed friendship and time away from his caring responsibilities on a residential trip to Magdalen Farm. Ryan told us he “loved the low ropes and when all the young carers had a water fight in the stream.” His whole family came to our Family Fun Day, a rare event where they
could all be supported to join in.

But, perhaps the most important change for Ryan is realising that he’s not alone and that there are other children like him. He told us “Even when I was struggling you didn’t give up on me.”

Hi I’m Sam-Lea. I’m 13 years old and I’m a young carer. I live with and care for my dad who is a disabled ex-service man. I help him with the chores around the house including washing up, vacuuming, loading and unloading the washing machine and more. I help him get dressed. I also remind him of his

We have a cat called Milly and an Old English Bull Mastiff cross with an Old English Bulldog called Winston. I feed them and clean Milly’s litter tray.

Sometimes it is hard as it is just the two of us and I sometimes need to help my dad out of bed; but all in all we work it together and we are very very happy!

I’ve been at Young Carers since last summer and it has given me a huge break. I really enjoyed getting my face painted as a zombie and decorating cakes!

Kierah is 9 years old and cares for her older sister Kayleigh who has Central Core Disease, a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. Kayleigh uses a wheelchair and needs 24/7 care. Kierah is her mum’s right hand person: she helps around the house doing household chores, minds her two younger siblings and when mum isn’t well, helps with Kayleigh’s personal care.

We have been supporting Kierah for the last year. She started out in the Heroes group which meets for 6 sessions and aims to improve young carers’ self-esteem, share new skills and explore issues through creative play and activities. Young carers quickly make friends and have a lot of fun too.

We have seen Kierah’s confidence grow enormously and she now takes part in Young Carers Voice, where she is the youngest member! This is a monthly forum where young carers meet to discuss issues that matter to them and meet with professionals to raise awareness and influence policy.

Through Young Carers Voice, Kierah has met with the South Gloucestershire Policy Steering Group and described issues affecting her and how she copes at school. She also took part in making the hospital film for National Young Carers Awareness Day.

Kierah’s mum says: “The support has made such a difference. Kierah now feels part of something that is rewarding. It gives her a break from caring and she meets others in similar situations; so she knows she’s not alone.”