Young Adult Carers – The Unsung Heroes 

Some of you are unsung heroes – young adults with caring responsiblities. It is a role which is often overlooked and undervalued. Juggling the responsibilities of caregiving alongside your own ambitions, demonstrates resilience, compassion, and strength. The selflessness and dedication deserve our recognition and support. Find out what a young carer is and how you can get support for you or someone you know.

Young adult carers are young people aged 16–25 who care, unpaid, for a family member or friend with an illness or disability, mental health condition or addiction.

  • There are at least 376,000  young adult carers in the UK.
  • They are likely to be in every school, college, university and workplace.

What might a young adult carer do? 

  • Practical tasks, such as cooking, housework and shopping.
  • Physical care, such as helping someone out of bed.
  • Emotional support, such as talking or listening to someone who is distressed.
  • Personal care, such as helping someone dress or go to the toilet.
  • Managing the family budget and collecting prescriptions.
  • Helping to give someone their medication.
  • Helping someone communicate.
  • Looking after brothers and sisters.

Being a young adult carer can greatly impact the things that are important to growing up.

  • It can affect a young person’s health, social life and self confidence – over 45% reported a mental health problem.
  • Many struggle to manage their education, working life and caring role which can cause pressure and stress.
  • Recent research on young adult carers who were no longer in education showed their highest qualifications were GCSEs grade D–G.
  • 29% had dropped out of college/university because of their caring role. This is four times greater than the national average for degree courses.

But young people can learn many useful skills by being a young adult carer.
You can find out more about being a young adult carer from the Carers Trust: Caring as a Young Adult Carer

Looking After Yourself

It can feel as though there is very little time for you to take a breather when caring. However, finding moments to relax and destress could make a huge difference to your wellbeing. Here are some suggestions to help you look after yourself and develop your resilience.

Expand your support network – Keeping in touch with family, friends or neighbours about your circumstances may help open up more doors for support when needed. You could join other carers at an online meetup.

Need more sleep? It may be particularly hard to get the sleep and rest you need, especially if you are helping to look after someone during the night. If you have trouble switching off, there are specially tailored apps that can help, or you may wish to speak to your GP if you’re struggling.

Don’t neglect your health – eating well and staying active regularly are great ways to stay healthy, but it can be challenging to eat well and exercise with a busy caring role. Take a look at the Carers Active Hub for ideas and inspiration. Speak to your GP if you are concerned that your caring responsibilities are having an impact on your health so that they can offer you further advice.

Exclusive Discounts for Carers & Care Workers

From compassionate care assistants, to supporting a loved one, your caring spirit deserves rewarding discounts.
Join Discounts for Carers for a range of promotional offers for your day-to-day needs.

Whether you’re a paid or unpaid carer, Discounts for Carers has a huge range of discounts, money-saving deals and vouchers that you’re entitled to, including travel and holiday deals , money off top fashion brands, savings on homeware and electricals, through to deals on mobile phones, utilities and gym memberships. The amazing things you do every day should be rewarded. You deserve it!

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10 Top Tips for Young Adult Carers

Carers UK contacted the young adults in the caring community to find out their advice for Young Adult Carers. Here is what they shared!

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Know that we are doing a great job

You are doing a great job. What you do makes a difference to those you care about. You are the best person for it and you’re doing the best you can do. As carers, we learn as you go, and that’s normal. It’s good to remind ourselves that even the small things you do can be day-changing for those around you.

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Recognise our personal journey.

Our life might look different to that of our friends, peers or even of other young adult carers. But it is important to recognise that we are on our own personal journey. It is important to acknowledge how far we’ve come so far, the skills we have gained and the important role we play as a carer. 

Do not compare your successes to others or believe every success you see on social media. You are doing a great job, there is nowhere else you should be or a milestone you should have hit. Your journey solely focuses on you, your resilience, the lessons you’ve learned and your personal growth.

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Take time to do the things we enjoy

The time we put into the things we enjoy is time that is invested in ourselves. Whether it’s one-off projects, an online course, going to the gym or taking up a hobby, it is time spent on us away from caring. It is a time where we can focus on our ’wants’, as well as our needs. Doing the things we enjoy is so beneficial for our mental wellbeing. 

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“Remember: we are an individual with our own needs too.”

You are important. Understanding your needs and meeting them regularly is the fuel which will help you continue doing what you do and avoid running on empty.

Make time for ourselves, no matter how busy we are

Schedule time for you as part of your day to day routine. It doesn’t have to be anything big, it could be just five minutes for a game, a chapter of a book, a walk or an episode of a TV program.  

Whatever it is, put it in your calendar. Make that commitment to you. 

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Make time to speak to others

It is easy to leave a message on ‘read’, to miss or postpone a phone call or to simply not start a conversation when we feel like we don’t have the time. However, there are times where these conversations can be just what we need, even if we don’t know it. Whether it’s a catch up with a friend or a virtual cuppa with carers, speaking to others can help us to work through the tough stuff, to talk about recent events or share a laugh or two.

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Set personal goals and aspirations for ourselves 

What is your dream job or career? What is on your bucket list?

Setting goals and plans help us to bring out the best in ourselves. They remind us to think about what’s important to us and to be ourselves.

“You’ll have to go off on your own adventure which is only defined where you set your imagination and ambition.”

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It’s okay to not have all the answers

Every experience of caring is so unique and a big part of it is learning as we go. No one ever has all of the answers but there are a whole range of people, tools, services and resources out there to help us find the solutions that work for us. Never be afraid to ask for help.

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Make the most of the support available to us 

Support is important, even when we don’t think we need it.
Support is not only beneficial in times of crisis but it is also so important within our day to day lives.

Accessing support helps us to gain the tools we need to be resilient, healthy and emotionally strong when we need to be. It can also ensure the practical things are in place if and when we need it, which gives us peace of mind. We offer individual support calls if you feel like you’d benefit from a chat with one of our coaches.

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Find what self-care works for us

Self-care looks different for everyone; it doesn’t always look like respite breaks, mindfulness or wellbeing classes.

Sometimes, it can be taking time to listen to our favourite song, having a bubble bath or calling a friend for a catch-up. The important thing is to make time for the things that help us to recharge within our day.

Self-care shouldn’t feel like more work!