Am I a Young Carer?
Are you under 18? Do you look after or help to look after someone at home who is disabled, sick, elderly, experiencing mental health problems or unable to look after themselves for some other reason? If so, you are probably a young carer.
The caring you do may include one or more of the following:
- Emotional support – sitting and listening to the person you care for
- Household jobs – extra domestic chores such as cleaning, cooking, washing up, shopping and ironing.
- Medical care – helping with medicine and injections.
- Personal care – helping with washing, dressing, feeding or taking them to the toilet.
- Physical care – helping the person to move around the house or go out.
It is not easy being a young carer but it is not anything to be ashamed of either.
As a young carer you may find you:
- Have less spare time than many of your friends.
- Worry a lot about the person you are caring for.
- Feel your schoolwork is not as good as it could be because of the extra caring you do.
- Are embarrassed about inviting friends back to your house because of the situation at home.
- Feel a bit different to your friends and are worried about being picked on or bullied.
No two situations are the same, but many young carers have similar feelings, experiences and stories to tell. There are many young people who are carers but the exact number is not known because most young people do not like to call themselves a young carer.
All children under the age of 18 have rights. There are laws to protect these rights.
One of the most important rights you have as a young carer is the right to an assessment.
What is an assessment and should I get one?
A social worker is the person who would make an assessment. They will ask questions about yourself, your family, the things you do as a carer, how you feel about being a carer and how it may be affecting your life. The social worker needs to ask these questions to get a good picture of your life.
After the assessment the social worker will decide what help they may be able to offer you and the person you care for. The social worker must listen to what you have to say when deciding what help to offer. The social worker will then let you know the type of help they are thinking about to make your life easier.
It is important that you are as honest as possible in what you say and the help you would like. If you are unhappy with what is being offered it is best to say so and give your reasons why, rather than agreeing if you are not happy.
You may be worried about asking for an assessment because you do not want to talk in front of the person you care for and feel embarrassed about asking for help. You can ask to see the social worker on your own and take along a friend or adult you feel will support you.
Getting ready for the assessment
It is not expected that you will have prepared in advance for the social workers visit. However, it may help you to think of all the extra things you do as a young carer and the amount of time you spend on each.
Below are listed some of the things that you might do, you may like to think about each one and write down how long you spend doing it.
- Looking after brother and sister
Helping the person you care for to:
- Move around the house
- Move around outside the house
- Get dressed
- Wash and go to the toilet
- Take medicines
- Manage their money
- Sorting out appointments with doctors/hospitals
- Keeping the person you care for company
- Lifting the person you care for
Other questions to think about
Who else helps you with these jobs?
What would you like to do but cannot because of the caring you do? (eg go out with friends, earn some money, stay for after school activities, do some homework etc).
What sort of help would you like, to give you the chance to do some of these things?
When you meet the social worker you may want to talk about benefits (money) the family are receiving. Alternatively, you can contact a number of other places that can offer benefits (money) advice.
Sharing your caring
You may not want your friends or anybody else to know what goes on at home. Your family may not want other people to know either. Both you and your family may be worried what might happen if you do tell anyone about the caring you are doing.However, as we said earlier being a young carer can be hard. Talking to someone about it often helps.
Here are some suggestions of who you could think about talking to:
- Friends – do you have a special friend you can trust? Do you already talk to them about other things? If people start asking awkward questions your friend can stand up for you.
- Family – it may be hard to talk to your mum, dad or brothers and sisters. Do you have an aunt, uncle or grandparent who you get on well with?
- School – is there a teacher you know well? If you have begun to have difficulties with your schoolwork because of the caring you do, teachers will understand and be sympathetic. Do you know the Education Welfare Officer at your school?
- Youth workers – do you know anyone who runs a youth club you have attended or someone in your local leisure centre.
- District Nurse/Health Visitor – one of these paid workers may already be visiting your house. Could you talk to them?
Young Carers Projects
There are two Young Carers Projects covering Rhondda Cynon Taf. The projects give young carers the chance to have “timeout” from the caring role, take part in group activities and help to arrange extra support for you and your family.
Cynon Valley Young Carers Project
Mountain Ash YMCA
01443 476777 (sometimes an answer machine)
Rhondda and Taff Ely Young Carers Project
193 Brithweunydd Road
All the people listed above will respect what you have told them and not tell other people unless you agree. However if something you have said makes them believe that you are at risk they will have to pass the information on.
Children and Young People’s Principal Offices
There are local offices covering each of the three areas – Cynon, Rhondda and Taff Ely. Cynon have a separate Children and Young People’s Office. The emergency duty team covers the three areas.
You should contact these offices for general advice or if you think you need direct help – ask for the “Duty Desk” when you ring.
Cynon Children and Young People’s Division
Gas Works Road
Tel: 01685 888888
Fax: 01685 879046
Minicom: 01685 881741
Cynon Principal Office (Community Care)
Aberdare CF44 8HU
Tel: 01685 875481
Fax: 01685 879046
Minicom: 01685 881741
Pontypridd CF37 1LJ
Tel: 01443 486731 (also minicom)
Fax: 01443 486102
All of the above offices are open
Rhondda Principal Office
Tonypandy CF40 2HH
Tel: 01443 431513 (also minicom)
Fax: 01443 434833
Taff Ely Principal Office
All of the above offices are open Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5.00pm and Fridays 8.30am to 4.30pm.
Outside of these hours, in an emergency please ring:
Emergency Duty Team
Tel: 01443 204010
Fax: 01443 217198
General Information on young carers
The following two organisations can be contacted fo general information on young carers
Ring Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Carers Line or contact Carers Wales on 029 20811370
There is no need to know about the law, which is there to help you as a young carer. However here is a list of the relevant laws.
The Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 Section 8.
The Children Act 1989 Section 17.
National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990
Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995
Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council have produced a document entitled ‘Children as Carers – The Multi Agency Response. Inter Agency Guidelines for Practice’. Copies of all this information can be obtained from the Rhondda Cynon Taf CarersLine.
Other useful organisations relevant to this subject
Provide a range of services for young people (between ages 14 – 25), including information shop, help to get access to services and aftercare.
If you want to talk to someone anonymously you can ring:
Freephone 0800 1111 (24 hours a day)
Textphone: 0800 400 222 (9.30am to 9.30pm Monday to Friday and 9.30am to 8pm on weekends)
2 Canon Street
Provide advice and information on issues relevant to young carers.
Education Welfare Officers
Eye to Eye Youth Counselling Service
Beddau Community Education Centre
A confidential counselling service for young people. Ring for an appointment.
Rhondda Cynon Taf CarersLine
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 1.30pm and 2pm to 5pm (Answerphone available out of hours)
Freephone – 0808 100 1801
Freephone minicom – 0808 100 1675
CarersLine is a confidential service and a member of the Telephone Helplines Association.