'Looking after my mum and sister is a constant worry'
Today, new census data will be released with more information about young carers. Thousands of children across the country are forced to grow up early and miss out on vital educational and recreational opportunities because they care for disabled or chronically ill adults or siblings.
We'll be sharing information and opinions about this throughout the day - please continue to visit our website and follow us on Twitter. In the meantime, please read Kelly's story; she is 17 and cares for her mother.
I live at home with my mum and younger sister. Mum has anxiety issues, panic attacks and takes medication for depression.
My job is to reassure her that everything is ok. She gets really anxious and does this horrible routine every night before she goes to bed to make sure everything is switched off and locked. She spends five minutes pulling the door handle up and down to make sure it’s locked and when she’s done it she makes me do it all over again.
She also switches off each light in the house saying: 'Off! Off! Off!' But if her finger slips, she will do it all over again. She’s usually in bed by 9pm after taking her medication for depression, leaving me in charge.
One day she left the gas cooker on, which could have set the house on fire. After she turned if off one time, she accidently nudged the gas knob on again. She also once left the chip pan on, which was really scary.
She copes with her anxiety by sleeping during the day as it helps her stop worrying. But it doesn’t stop me worrying. I don’t feel anyone really understands what I have to go through or how anxious I often feel. Looking after my mum and sister is a constant worry and I have to rush home every day after college to make tea, clean and shop.
I just wish mum wasn’t on her own all day because of the risks and I worry she doesn’t take her medication. Because mum’s frightened of leaving the cooker on I do all the cooking and help out with the housework. Mum’s too scared to go out alone so I have to take her everywhere which leaves me little time to spend with my friends.
My sister’s 15, but she’s really young for her age so I feel responsible for her too. One thing that really helps is the support I get from the young carers centre. They understand what it’s like; I can trust them and talk about my problems knowing that I won’t get judged. The school drop-in centre is also great. Looking after mum has inspired me to change from my current course on mechanics to study health and social care at university.
More about young carers
Visit Young Carers in Focus, a national network that allows young carers to communicate, share stories and campaign for the things that matter most to them
Read Joanne's story - she looks after her older brother
Learn about issues young carers face