According to new research done by Carers Trust, looking after parents or siblings can have a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of young people.
The UK’s largest carers’ charity complied the information ahead of the launch of its new website and online community for young carers.
The charity engaged with over 350 unpaid young carers from carers groups around the country and compared their finding with a YouGov poll of 457 non-carers aged 8-15.
When the answers of the two groups were compared it revealed that the carers were less happy, more worried, sadder and more confused than their peers.
When asked to identify the cause of their anxieties the young carers were twice as worried about money, much more worried about bullying, exams, the future generally and, understandably, about their families.
Of the 350 respondents, 48% said their caring role made them feel stressed and 44% said it made them feel tired.
However 51% reported that they were proud of being a young carer and 42% said that it made them happy.
The research also found that a quarter of the respondents felt that they didn’t have enough people to talk to and 28% said they would like to talk to other young carers online.
Prompted by these findings, the Carers Trust is preparing to launch a new online community and website called Babble, which will provide friendship and support online for young carers under 18.
Babble will be a space where young carers can find others in a similar position, chat online, share stories and hear about each other’s experiences in a safe environment.
It has been designed based on discussions with young carers about their needs and will provide an easy and fun way to share content, as well as promoting community interaction and support.
As well as the support and friendship the charity hopes young carers will find with each other, they will also have access to help and advice, email and chat sessions with the Carers Trust Online Support Team, which is made up of qualified youth and community workers and professional social workers, who will also act as site moderators.
Interim Chief Executive of Carers Trust, Dr Moira Fraser said: “We know from what young people tell us that caring responsibilities can have a big impact on young carers’ mental wellbeing, and this survey really brings home the scale of the issue.
“This is also the first time we’ve been able to compare young carers’
feelings to other children and young people. It shows just how much Babble is needed to combat the risk of isolation and to make sure these young people are as happy and supported as they can be”.
Young carers have previously praised the current online support they are able to access through Carers Trust:
“It was my sanctuary in the midst of a very difficult time. It was a safe heaven. A place where I could be me and not be judged. It was my lifeline to help / support / friendships and reality - just because it’s online it doesn't mean friendships aren't made.”
“How do I start on saying what you guys have done for me? Through thick and thin you guys have been here for me. All the laughs I've shared with everyone on the site, both staff and users, makes my day.
When there's days with no chat if I'm not busy I actually miss all the amazing people.”
“I think it has helped me develop conversation skills and a lot of confidence. I've find it easier to get along with new people. It’s also nice to know other young carers because I don't know anyone who's one outside the site. I like the fact everyone tries to help each other. I has a really nice atmosphere and honestly I love everyone there so much!”
“I think, including me, lots of people don’t want to make a fuss that they’re a young carer and sometimes just want a normal life which is why the online service is good. I use it and it’s very helpful.”