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Young carers

Find out how to get support if you are a young carer.

Last updated:
24 January 2020
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1 Overview

It can be difficult to recognise that you are a young carer. You might be if you help look after someone who:

  • couldn’t manage without you, for example a brother, sister, parent or grandparent
  • is physically disabled
  • has a long term illness
  • has a mental health condition
  • is addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Lots of young people want to help out at home and feel proud that they are lending a hand. At the same time the impact of helping to look after someone in your family who couldn’t manage without you may cause you difficulties at home, school, college or elsewhere.

You might benefit from our support if:

  • the person you help look after needs some more support at home
  • you need support to help look after them
  • you worry about them a lot
  • you struggle to get to school or do your homework on time
  • you could do with some support to talk about this at school
  • you need some time out to spend with your friends.

2 What help is available?

Help and support is provided by our Young Carers Service. They may provide:

  • a whole family assessment, looking at the strengths, challenges and areas for support for each person in your family
  • activities during school holidays for 8-11 year olds
  • a weekly Young Carers' group during school term for 11-16 year olds, held in: Crawley, Horsham, Burgess Hill, Worthing, Littlehampton, Bognor Regis and Chichester
  • a place at the annual Young Carers Festival for 14-16 year olds
  • someone to talk to about your caring role
  • support to talk to key people at school and maybe to your friends
  • help to understand the illness or disability which the person you are helping to look after may have
  • a volunteer mentor to spend time with you once a week for up to 6 months who can set personal goals and provide encouragement and motivation.

All young carers under the age of 18 have a right to ask us to carry out an assessment, regardless of who they care for, what type of care they provide, or how often they provide it.

3 How to get help

Usually an adult will make a referral on your behalf to request an assessment. This helps us:

  • understand the situation
  • decide what support may be needed
  • allocate someone to help you.

The referral could be made by:

  • a teacher
  • a social worker
  • another professional
  • your own parent or guardian.

If the person making the referral is not part of your family, it is important that they have asked your family for permission to contact us and that your family are happy for their information to be shared.

Adults can find details of how to make a referral and more information on the West Sussex County Council website.

4 Preparing for adulthood

Age 16 or 17

If you are aged 16 or 17 and caring for someone who can't manage without you, then you have the right to an assessment to look at the support you may need as you turn 18 and become a young adult carer.

You can ask us for this assessment yourself by emailing us at youngcarers@westsussex.gov.uk - it doesn’t need to be an adult that does this.

Age 18 and above

If you are aged 18 or over you can get support as a young adult carer through Carers Support West Sussex.

Their ‘Shine’ project provides:

  • one to one help
  • advice and guidance
  • ‘My Future’ groups once a month in Chichester, Worthing and Crawley for carers up to the age of 25, in partnership with West Sussex Young Carers Service.
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