It’s Carers Week… But What Is A Carer?

Disabilities & Additional Needs | by | 12th Jun 2017

Boy, possibly a young carer, chopping veg for carer and carers article.

This week is Carers Week, so we look at the challenges that can face carers and what support is out there.

What is a carer?

According to Carers Trust UK – “A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.”

Across Wales there are 370,000 carers. They are unpaid and support a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill. This can have a huge effect on a person’s life and plans, whether you care for just a few hours or full time, within your own home or elsewhere. Carers have an enormously hard time, although they most likely would not admit it. Juggling work, family, dealing with their own health… it is really not an easy thing to do and can be pretty hard work, frightening and even very lonely.

How does someone become a carer?

There are many reasons. Maybe someone you love has an accident or become ill. Maybe your child is born with a disability. Are you caring for your parents? This may have started off with you just helping with some shopping, but as time goes on they may not be able to manage fully on their own and you are now caring for them.

It is not just adults who are classed as carers though, as you also have young carers.

Carers and young carers week infographic

Who are young carers?

Barnardo’s states – “A young carer is someone under 18 who helps look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol.”

Most will say that young carers are the children who look after their dad who is in a wheelchair, or their sibling who is sick and goes to hospital a lot etc. Like the children you see in the news around National Young Carers day. You can see what they have to do, and you can see why they help. It is clear what the problems are that they may face.

But you also have invisible young carers – whose lives are affected by someone else’s misuse of drugs, alcohol and/or prescription drugs. These are the young carers that sometimes get forgotten as they are not recognised for what they may have to do in life.

Do young people have rights?

Officially, from April 2015, the law changed for young carers. Now a social worker from the local authority must visit to carry out a Young Carers Needs Assessment, which would decide what kind of help the young carer and the family may need if requested.

Every child in the world has rights according to the United Nation Convention on the Rights of The Child (UNCRC). In Wales we also have the Rights of Children & Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011. Welsh Ministers have to show “due regard” to the UNCRC when making policies and discussions – including the views and opinions of young carers.

Who can help a carer?

There are a number of organisations that work to help both adult and children who are carers.

Barnardo’s Young Carers

Barnardo’s can provide further information and contact details

Children in Wales

Children in Wales’ current work in this area includes:

  • Facilitating a Young Carers Network
  • Sitting on Welsh Government working groups to represent young carers
  • Supporting projects to work together to develop activities for young carers
  • Undertaking consultation work for Welsh Government

Carers Trust Wales

If you have any questions about being a carer or you’re able to share any experiences you have received as a carer then get in touch with Carers Trust Wales.

Carers Wales

Carers Wales is here to:

  • Listen
  • Give you expert information and advice that’s tailored to your situation
  • Champion your rights
  • Support you in finding new ways to manage at home, at work, or wherever you are

FamilyPoint Helpline

FamilyPoint Helpline graphic for family information

If you feel you need to talk to someone about this issue or any other problems your family is having then call our advisors on the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline. The helpline is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. They can help you to find organisations that can help.

If you liked this article there are lots more in our Magazine section:

Invisible Young Carers: Who Are They?

Guest Post: A Day In The Life of a Carer

Competition: Take The Family Kayaking In Cardiff

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