Young carers are children and young people who provide care to a family member with a chronic illness, disability or other long-lasting care needs. They undertake a wide range of caring roles and activities (e.g. emotional support, personal care, housework and household budgeting) and assume a level of responsibility that would usually be associated with an adult. As a result, their caregiving can have adverse impacts on their health, social life, education and employment opportunities.
Many young carers describe the support they provide as key to their relationships and identity. The normalisation of their role as carers can nevertheless lead adults to underestimate the potential negative effects of caring responsibilities during childhood and adolescence. It is therefore crucial to raise awareness about the situation and needs of young carers, foster conversations about the impact of caring on the entire family and equip professionals with adequate tools to identify and support young carers.
The ongoing research work carried out in the framework of the EU-funded Together project (https://togethereuproject.eu/), together with colleagues from Italy, Germany, Greece and Scotland, has confirmed the endemic lack of resources to promote open dialogue within families about the caring relationship. Based on these findings, the Together consortium has developed a set of resources in order to make a difference.
These resources aim to:
- Help young carers self-identify and realise that they are not alone;
- Encourage families to have an open and honest conversation about the impact of caregiving, and
- Equip professionals from the youth sector with the tools they need to identify and support young carers.
All of these resources can be accessed here. Moreover, a professional guide has also been developed to provide more information on the use of these different resources. The guide is avalable on the project website.