Lottie News > Young Carers Support - What Help is Available in the UK?

Young Carers Support - What Help is Available in the UK?

Young carer with an elderly woman

Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

Child carers provide vital support for their loved ones – and many don’t even realise they’re carers.

Our new research has found that online searches from young carers looking for help have significantly increased over the last 12 months, including a 267% increase in searches for ‘young carers over 16’.

We’ve also found the following increases in online searches:

  • 50% increase in online searches on Google for ‘young carers services’
  • 24% increase in online searches on Google for ‘young carers’ and ‘young carers support’

How Much More Are Young Carers Searching For Help?

Search Term How Much More Are People Searching For It?
Young carers over 16 + 267%
Young carers services + 50%
Young carers + 24%
Young carers support + 24%

Source: Internal analysis from Google's Keyword Planner over the last 12 months (September 2021-August 2022)

Continue reading to learn more about the support and help that’s available to young carers, along with how to claim carers allowance as a student.

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In this article:

  1. Young carers in the UK
  2. Who is considered a carer?
  3. Help for young carers - answering your questions
  4. How to claim carer's allowance as a student
  5. Young carers projects in the UK

Young Carers in the UK

There’s been a worrying increase in young carers searching for support online, so it’s important to raise awareness of the help available to families. The pandemic has left many people vulnerable and isolated, which may have contributed to the increase in young carers across the UK.

With more young carers turning to online networks for support (as opposed to sharing their concerns with teachers or family members), there’s clearly still a stigma surrounding young carers and being open about this role.

Every school and community should have clear signposting about the local support available in the area for anyone that helps an older adult or loved one. Through this, we can raise awareness of what it’s like to be a young carer, while actively reducing any stigma surrounding disabilities, care, and mental health.

A surge in young carers looking for help online

Who Is Considered a Carer?

Recognising you’re a young carer isn’t always easy. If you’re aged 18 or younger and you’re helping someone at home because they can’t look after themselves (such as helping someone wash, cook or look after a sibling and making sure they’re safe), you’re a carer.

This care can be short-term, like supporting someone’s recovery after an injury, or it can be long-term support like helping someone with an ongoing condition.

A government-recognised carer is someone who cares for someone at least 35 hours a week and is eligible for Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Credit.

According to the 2011 census, there are over 6.5 million carers in the UK.

A young female carer and her mother

Help For Young Carers - Answering Your Questions

With an estimated 800,000 young carers in the UK, we’ve answered the most googled questions by young carers over the last 12 months to raise awareness of the support that’s available to them.

Can young carers get paid?

Yes – the government currently offer a Carer’s Allowance which is paid every week. If you’re aged 16 or over, you spend at least 35 hours caring for someone and you’re not in either full-time education or earning more than £132 a week (net), you’ll be able to claim Carer’s Allowance.

Through Carer’s Allowance, you could get £69.70 per week.

You don’t have to be related to or live with the person you care for to get this either.

What are young carers entitled to?

Alongside Carer’s Allowance benefits, you’ll automatically get National Insurance credits (these can help to fill gaps in your National Insurance record).

You may be entitled to apply for more benefits, including extra support from your local council, Universal Credit, Income Support or grants/bursaries to help pay for courses and training.

How can I claim young carers allowance?

It’s an easy process – simply head to the Government website and make a claim. However, before you apply, make sure you have:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Course details (if you’re studying)
  • The date of birth, address, and National Insurance number of the person you’re caring for

If you’re unsure, speak to your local council and they’ll be able to support you with your application.

What is a young carers assessment?

Put simply, a young carers assessment can determine whether it’s appropriate for you to care for someone else. This assessment will also ask you whether you want to be a carer. A social worker will ask you a few questions about your wishes, while doing the same for the person you’re caring for.

If you’re aged 16 or over and you’re not in full-time education, a social worker can support you with finding work. Getting an assessment can help you find out what’s available as a young carer. Here, you can also discuss alternatives if you’re struggling with the responsibility, or if your health and wellbeing are being impacted.

Remember – there’s always support available. There are lots of care homes that can provide round-the-clock support for your loved one. Another option to consider is home care, which will allow your loved one to remain in comfortable and familiar surroundings.

Woman assessing a young carer on her iPad

What support is available for young carers?

Young carers take on a lot of different responsibilities – and it can sometimes be too much to cope with, both for you as the young carer and for your family.

It’s really important to be aware then that from financial help (like Carer’s Allowance) to organisations providing emotional support, there’s lots of support available.

Barnardo’s provide lots of services to support young carers, including activities and outings with other carers, drop-in sessions where carers can take a break, along with talking to school and workplaces about the extra responsibilities of young carers.

Action For Children and Sidekick are other organisations that provide amazing support for young carers. Events, outings, and meet-ups are regularly held across the country by Action For Children, so you can enjoy being a child or teen while taking a break away from caring responsibilities.

Unfortunately, there’s still some stigma surrounding young carers and their responsibilities, which is why Sidekick offers an anonymous and confidential text services for any young carers aged between 13 and 18. You can message any time about anything that’s worrying you.

Finally, if you’re unable to cope with looking after a family member – or their condition gets worse – it may be time to look for additional support, whether that’s through home care support or by moving into a care home. A young carer’s assessment – and your local council – can support with this process.

How to Claim Carers Allowance as a Student

Many people are under the impression that having caring responsibilities can put university out of reach. Actually, there are a number of support services aimed at helping student carers, meaning it’s never too late to start university. Finding the right help will allow you to succeed in your studies while providing care to someone else.

If you’re receiving Carer’s Allowance then you can only study for up to 21 hours a week, including classes, lecturers, tutorials, seminars and the independent study which is expected by the university. If you study more than this then your eligibility for Carer’s Allowance might be affected.

While you can’t get Carer’s Allowance if you’re in full-time education, there are other forms of financial support available.

Young Carers Bursary

This will vary slightly depending on whereabouts you attend, but you could be eligible for this type of bursary if the following conditions all apply:

  • You’re a full-time undergraduate student in the UK aged under 25
  • You have caring responsibilities for a parent or loved one (but not for a child)
  • Your family income is below £25,000 a year

At the University of Portsmouth, this bursary is worth £500 a year.

The exact terms and conditions, along with how much you can get, will vary from university to university, from sixth-form to sixth-form and from college to college. To find out more, we’d recommend contacting the Student Finance department of the university or college you attend.

Young carers bursary

Young Carers Projects in the UK

The most important thing to remember is that there’s always support available, and you’re not alone.

Across the UK, young carers projects aim to support children and young people who are helping to care for someone in their family.

This support will vary from organisation to organisation but will often include emotional support, group discussions and creative workshops.

Gloucestershire Young Carers

Gloucestershire Young Carers supports young carers while also taking a ‘whole family’ approach. Young carers can use this site and answer a series of simple questions (including your age and whether the person you look after is disabled). They’ll then provide you with tailored advice and let you know exactly what services they’re able to offer to you.

Edinburgh Young Carers Project

Edinburgh Young Carers provides respite care and support to young people aged between 5 and 25 who care for somebody else.

Above all, this project aims to create a friendly and supportive environment where young carers can have lots of fun and temporarily put their worries to one side.

Young Carers Kingston

This project within the London borough of Kingston upon Thames is dedicated to supporting the needs of young carers (aged 5-18). They have plenty of experience and expertise in issues which can affect young carers. This organisation is currently supporting over 740 young carers in the area! Some of their services include 1-to-1 support, regular newsletters and drop-in sessions.

Young Carers Project Brighton

The Young Carers Project in Brighton supports children and young people aged 6-17 years old who are helping to care for a loved one.

This project in Brighton allows carers to attend school holiday activities, creative workshops and term-time drop-in sessions. This centre works alongside primary and secondary schools in the local area to support school staff in identifying carers in their schools.

Young adult carers aged 16-25 can also receive specialised support through the Carers Hub - you can find the contact details for this by clicking the link above.

Haringey Young Carers Project

The Haringey Young Carers Project helps children and young people aged 11-18 who care for someone in their family that suffers from a mental or physical condition, a disability or drug-related abuse.

This support includes regular group activities like sports, cooking and music, along with numerous educational workshops that cover topics such as career planning, budgeting and exploring the role of a young carer.

The purpose of these sessions is to allow young carers to enjoy themselves while learning new skills within a safe environment.

We’re on a mission to support individuals and their loved ones throughout each stage of their later living journey. For more information, check out everything Lottie has to offer.

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