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Young Carers is a term that embraces the diversity of caring.

Young Carer Definitions

There are two major pieces of legislation that define and enshrine rights for young Carers. The Care Act and the Children and Families Act. Their definitions differ.

“Young carer means a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for an adult” (Care Act (2014) , Section 63, 7)

In this Part “young carer” means a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person (but this is  qualified by section 17ZB(3)). Children and Families Act 2014 (c. 6) Part 5 — Welfare of children

We take the wider definition to cover siblings, and even on occasion people outside of the immediate family.

We support Young Adult Carers up to the age of 24.
Increasingly we are seeing the use of Transition Age Carer to cover the transition into adulthood and this covers the age range 14-24.
The term Young Adult Carer being reserved for Carers who are adult, but still Young!

Caring Activities

Caring is diverse, depending on the needs to the people who are cared for, the support they have in place:

Caring is generally to take the following different forms

  • Personal Care
  • Physical Care
  • Emotional Support 
  • Practical Care
  • Budgeting
  • Medication
  • Communication
  • Sibling Care

Of these we would expect sibling care and practical care (e.g. chores) to be carried out by older siblings, and most young people with siblings.  The key is are they doing more chores due to family members are unable to; are they looking after siblings more because family members are unable to; or are they looking after siblings with additional needs due to illness or disability 

A key issue is the concept of inappropriate care:  

Inappropriate caring responsibilities should be considered as anything which is likely to have an impact on the child’s health, wellbeing or education, or which can be considered unsuitable in light of the child’s circumstances and may include: personal care such as bathing and toileting; carrying out strenuous physical tasks such as lifting; administering medication; maintaining the family budget; emotional support to the adult.

Care and Support Statutory Guidance (DoH 2014)


Life Limiting Conditions

  • Children care for people with a range of life-limiting conditions they are generally categorised

    Sensory Disability
    Physical Disability
    Mental Health Conditions
    Long Term Illness
    Learning Disability
    Problematic use of Drugs & / Alcohol

People don’t just have one condition, families don’t always contain just one person with disability or health condition. A child may care for more than one person, or may only care for one person within a multi-cared-for household.

Are there any Young Carers in my area?

As a charity, we have over 1100 young carers between the ages of 5-24 registered with us, but there is more to be done to raise awareness and to ensure that these young people are recognised and supported at an early age.

Young Carers are often described as hidden, and therefore estimates vary.  We frequently use two sources to estimate numbers in the Wigan Borough.  The lower estimate is 2.3% based on the 2011 census.

The higher estimate is 8% based on a survey undertaken by the BBC and University of Nottingham.

A simple estimate based on the number of children in the Borough suggest between 1300 and 4500 children have some sort of caring role.  This figure excludes Young Adult Carers (YACs) in the 18-24 age range.  The extent and degree of caring can differ remarkably as well as the impact of the “type” of caring. 


Why are young carers hidden?

Some of the most common reasons that Young Carers are hidden include: 

  • Parent’s condition is not obvious. People don’t think that they need any help.
  • They do not realise that they are a carer.
  • They don’t want to be seen as different from their peers.
  • They believe that the school will show no interest in their family circumstances.
  • They want to keep their identity at school separate from their caring role.
  • It’s not the sort of thing they feel can be discussed with friends.
  • There has been no opportunity to share their story.
  • They are worried about bullying.
  • They worry that the family will be split up and taken into care.
  • They want to keep it a secret and/or are embarrassed.
  • They see no reason or positive actions occurring as a result of telling their story.


Impacts of Caring

The average total GCSE points score for a young person who had caring responsibilities in year 9 was 333, compared to 386 for young people who were not young carers in year 9.

equivalent to nine GCSE grades overall, or the difference between nine B’s and nine C’s.

Hidden from View, 2012  p. 12


Cheesbrough et al., 2017a, b.

16% vs. 3% being bullied
10% vs. 1% late for school
28% vs 50% never been absent from school.

GMA Survey By Carers for Carers (245 from 7 Boroughs)

  • 1/3 of YCs haven’t told their school they care
  • 3 out of 5 don’t have a lead in school
  • 9 out of 10 panic or worry when they aren’t with the person they care for
  • 1 in 5 don’t feel they have the skills to care for the person they have to look after
  • 44% worry about being taken into care.
  • Over 60% can’t afford anything other than necessities.
  • Outside of YC services 15% never see friends.