To mark Young Carer’s Action Day, Carers Trust have released a report which reveals how a lack of support and a dramatic rise in time spent caring has left thousands of young carers across the UK feeling ‘lonely’, ‘worried’, ‘exhausted’ and ‘stressed’.

Nearly 600 young carers and young adult carers completed the survey, with more than half (53%) saying the amount of time they spend caring has increased in the past year. Of these respondents, one in five said they were caring for as much as 20 to 49 hours per week.

Roughly a third say their caring role has left them ‘always’ or ‘usually’ feeling worried (36%), lonely (33%), or stressed (42%), with 40% saying they rarely have someone to talk to about it.

Support from school, college or university was lacking, with more than half (52%) saying they never or rarely got help to balance studying with their caring role.

Being a young carer is “harder than anyone understands”

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

Now, the overwhelming burden of responsibility has become too much for some, as one carer explains: “It's too much pressure and responsibility for something I didn't choose.” Another said they feel like they’re “drowning” and the role is “harder than anyone understands.”

While the pandemic appears to be moving into a less acute phase, Covid has continued to negatively impact the lives of carers and young adult carers, with around half saying they felt less connected to others (47%) and a similar number saying their education was suffering (46%).

Nearly six in 10 (59%) said they felt more stressed while roughly four in ten said they mental health is worse (44%) and they were concerned about their future prospects (41%).

Bette support and more breaks for young carers

As a result of the survey’s findings, Carers Trust are calling on the UK government, the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and other stakeholders, to address isolation among young carers and young adult carers and act appropriately.

Firstly, the charity says that young carers must receive more respite opportunities to give them a much-needed break from caring. These can be provided by local carer organisations in partnership with local authorities and the wider voluntary sectors.

It also states that governing bodies do more to monitor how local authorities are meeting statutory duties to identify and support young carers and young adult carers, including providing funded support packages.

Finally, Carers Trusts says education providers must take a more integrated and collaborative approach to support, including working in partnership with the NHS, local authorities and local carer organisations.

The findings underline the “plight of young carers”

Carers Trust’s CEO, Kirsty McHugh, said the findings underline the “plight of young carers” and highlight the need for more investment in social care and specifically in local care organisations.

“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,” she said.

 

To read the full report and its findings, click here.