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What do we know about being a young carer?

There are probably more young carers out there than you think. They take on extra responsibilities, like dressing the person they look after, cooking, cleaning, shopping, collecting prescriptions. It's a lot to take on as a child.

Understanding the reality of being a young carer can help ensure they get the support they need.

How many young carers are there?

young carer making food in kitchen

How many young carers are there?

By definition, a young carer is someone under the age of 18 who looks after a family member or friend who has a physical or mental health condition, or misuses drugs or alcohol. They may also look after brothers, sisters or elderly relatives too.

How many Young Carers are there?

There are lots of different estimates of how many young carers there are. The 2021 ONS census reported that there are around 120,000 young carers aged 5-18 in England, while the school census in 2023 suggested that there were 39,000 'known' young carers in the country. Meanwhile, a 2018 BBC survey found that there were as many as 820,000 young carers aged 11-15.

One thing is for certain: There are clearly a significant number of young people across the country with caring responsibilities, and it’s important that every one of them is getting the support they need.

What rights do young carers have?

The Children and Families Act 2014, and the Care Act 2014, both significantly strengthened young carers' rights. Local authorities have a duty to offer all young carers an assessment of need — no matter how old they are, who they look after, how many hours they provide support for, and why they care.

Young Adult Carers are also entitled to a transition assessment before they turn 18. This ensures that they have the support they need as they begin their adult life.

You can learn more about the legislation and guidance for young carers here.


girl smiling in front of brick wall

Make sure you live for yourself Make sureyou livefor yourself

What can be the impacts of being a young carer?

Having caring responsibilities can be really difficult for some young people. Our research shows that young carers can feel stressed or anxious, miss school, have limited time to spend with their friends, and feel they have to limit their plans for their own futures.

At the same time, many of the young carers we have worked with and spoken to for our research say that being a young carer can be positive, too. They might value the closeness they have with the person they care for, and develop resilience through meeting the challenges they have experienced.

young girl smiling hand over mouth

Things are going upwards

Things are going upwards

Molly's been looking after four members of her family since the age of 10. Since being referred to us at 14, she's grown in confidence and had time to pursue her own dreams.

Help for young carers

Young carers are determined

Through our work with young carers, we've learnt a lot about resilience. They are some of the strongest people you'll ever meet. With a little help, they achieve their dreams quicker than most.

Whether that's studying for a university degree or influencing change for other young carers, these young people are so much more than their caring responsibilities.

young carers are an absolute force to be reckoned with

girl speaks to a councillor