Carers of all ages need our support

a cartoon of Never Never Land

This is the simple truth - young carers grow up to be adult carers

Despite my relative youth (compared to Bruce Forsyth), I constantly find myself wistfully looking back to my carefree childhood. It is no surprise that my hero was Peter Pan who lived in Never Never Land and refused to grow up. My abiding memory of childhood is long summer nights spent playing football with friends or golf on Craigie Hill overlooking beautiful Perthshire.

I had it easy.

This week, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers announced that we would be distributing £1.5m to help young carers on behalf of Comic Relief. This is the third time they have given us money for this and has a tremendous impact on some young carers’ lives. My boss hopes that it will “help them to be children”.

There are children of all ages – including six and seven year olds – caring for parents or brothers and sisters, often providing nursing-type care: changing a colostomy bag; injecting insulin; bathing their mother. What childhood will they have to look back on? These are kids who Never Never get to be children.

The first young carer I met was a girl aged 9 who cared for her mum. I was shocked when she started telling me what she did and where her play area was – the living room and the small hallway by the kitchen as she couldn’t leave her Mum.

I sometimes think about some of the young carers who I’ve met and wonder what they are doing now; what have they grown up to be like? For many, they grow up to face the same caring responsibilities that they faced when they were a child. This is the simple truth that can avoid people who think young carers deserve support but adult carers don’t – young carers grow up to be adult carers.

Caring is not something that some young carers do between the ages of 5 and 18, and then older people do in retirement. Young carers may have specific and greater needs, but caring affects people of all ages. We cannot have situations where a carer in need cannot get help because she turned eighteen yesterday. What kind of birthday present is that?

A sprinkling of fairy dust could be good for carers of all ages. Find out more about the Comic Relief Grant Programme or visit our website for young carers.

Take care,



January 27, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized, Young carers | , , ,


  1. Morning Gordon,

    It is good that you received the money from Comic Relief but that does not get us away from the fact that many young kids are undertaking tasks that even some adults would turn from.

    Many families with kids doing the caring are not known to the system.They have a fear of the family being broken up and kids taken away. However, in situations mentioned above where it is known just how intense a childs caring role is,action needs taken by soc services right away.Support needs put in to families like the above.

    No young child should be providing nursing type care,or change colostomy bags,and it is sad as a society that we accept this as the norm.

    By all means let kids help round the house,do chores, shopping,normal household tasks etc but once a need for real support is identified, they should be given as much outside help as possible.

    Comment by Rosemary | January 28, 2010 | Reply

  2. If all carers got the help and support they need from the government then we wouldn’t be faced with deciding between them who to give what charitable help there is to. All we can ask is that it is distributed fairly and evenly across the UK to those in most need and in a manner in which it will achieve the most benefit.

    Comment by karen | January 31, 2010 | Reply

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