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If you're under eighteen years old and look after another person at home, you are a young carer. If so, you're not alone. It's estimated there are 50,000 young carers in the UK.
Help and support
We may be able to help and support you. We can provide information and advice about help you can get.
Do not be worried about contacting us. Your well being as a young person is our first concern. We'll want to involve you in any decisions about the help you need.
You may be looking after someone because:
- they're disabled
- they have a long-term illness
- they misuse drugs or alcohol
- or because someone else is finding it hard to cope with being a parent or carer
As a young carer you may:
- find that you are not able to go out with your friends
- be confused or angry about the situation at home
- be having difficulties at school or college because of your responsibilities at home
- feel alone and unable to talk to anyone about your situation
- need help with the caring
If you would like some help or support, we may be able to provide it.
You will probably need some kind of help at some point.
Help for the person you care for
- help with personal care, getting up, washing and dressing
- day care services or an activity to go to during the day
- use of home delivery shopping service
- a place to stay for a short time (respite) so you can have a break
- alarms, adaptations and equipment in the home
Help for you
- someone to talk to, both one to one and in groups
- Youth Clubs specially for young carers
- carer's card
- link worker in school
- mentoring and counselling
- free health check-ups
- carer's training in subjects like lifting, medication and food hygiene
- breaks from caring for you
Are all services free?
Some services are free, and we can even arrange to pay for transport so that you can access them. Some services have rules about who is allowed the service. Other services have to be paid for, usually according to how much money your family has. We'll always check this with you first and tell you what you can get.
There are lots of people you can speak to about being a young carer.
Some schools in Bristol now have ‘young carer’s leads’. This person, usually a teacher, has special training in young carer’s issues, and knows how to get help and support for you, both within school and outside it. If you do not have a lead in your school, talk to a trusted adult which could be a learning mentor, LSA, support worker or teacher. They will either know how to help you or will know someone who can.
If you are having trouble getting to school, you may already have an Education Welfare Officer (EWO). If you are having attendance problems, it is very important that explain your situation to them. This is because, if you don’t tell them the reason and give them the opportunity to sort things out, your parent may get into trouble. It is against the law for children to regularly miss school, and there are big fines, and even imprisonment, facing parents whose child does not attend school. EWOs can help you with school but you need to be honest with them.
Everyone between the ages of 13 and 19 has a Connexions Personal Advisor (PA). Your PA is there to help make sure that you are getting access to all the services you are entitled to, and to give you good advice about your future. Connexions also offer help to young people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives. You can contact your Connexions PA via your school, or telephone Connexions directly on 0117 987 3700.
Health workers and hospitals
If you are helping to care for a pre-school brother or sister, it is a good idea to let the Health Visitor know about it. Health Visitors are specially trained to help families when they have health issues, and are very experienced in accessing help for families in need. The Health Visitor will also need to include you in discussions about your younger brother and sister, because you are one of the carers. Letting the Health Visitor know about your caring responsibilities will make it easier for her to help your whole family. You can contact your Health Visitor by ringing your GP's surgery or health centre.
Hospital staff in Bristol are now being trained in young carer’s issues. If the person you are caring for is taken into hospital, as a carer you have a right to know what is happening, and to be included in discussions about that person. Hospital staff will also be able to find people who can help you with any problems you may be having. Talk to a nurse on the ward, and s/he will be able to help.
Children’s social workers can help children and young people who have serious social problems. While being a young carer is not usually a serious social problem, sometimes issues can come up that need a social worker to help sort them out. Often, young carers need a social worker if they have a lot of different problems that all come together at once. If this is the case for you, you can telephone your local Duty Team and speak to them. Children’s social workers can also work alongside adult’s social workers in order to help a family. When you ring the Duty Team, you should say that you want to ‘make a referral’, and you will be put through to a Referral and Information Assistant (R&IA). S/he will ask you for basic information about yourself – name, address, age, school etc, then she will ask you about the problems you are having. Once she has taken all the details, she will pass them along to the Duty Social Worker, who will get in touch with you to talk about things further. You should ring the social work team that covers the area where you live.
It may be that an adult you care for has a social worker themselves. Adult’s social workers can work alongside professionals who work with children in order to get the best outcome for you. We are aware that helping you also helps the person you care for. This is called ‘the Whole Family Approach’, and it is recognised as the best way to help people. Social workers in Bristol now use the Whole Family Approach to try and make sure that families get the help they need. If the person you care for has a social worker, make sure that s/he knows that you are a carer.
You can also contact adult social care directly by ringing Care Direct on 0117 922 2700.
Again, you should tell the person that you would like to 'make a referral'. This referral must be about the adult you care for. You should also have the person's permission before you make a referral about them. However, you can also simply telephone for advice and information about the sort of things that could be available for your family.
Groups for young carers
Young Carers at The Carers' Support Centre
They support children and young people aged 8 to 18 in Bristol and South Glos who provide substantial care for a family member who is ill, disabled or misusing substances. They work with families and give one-to-one support to individual young carers, provide social activities and outings, and work with professionals and agencies.
Bristol Black Carers
They understand the particular issues facing black carers, and can also speak to you in the language you use at home. If you come from a black or minority ethnic group, you can contact them:
We can’t help you if we don’t know about you! Telling people about your situation can get you help with caring if you need it and support for you.
Here are answers to worries that some young carers have.
Will I get taken into care?
No. The only reason we ever take people away from their families is because at that time, it is too dangerous for them to live at home. Caring for someone does not in itself put you in danger. We will do everything we can to make your caring role easier, to help your family stay together.
Will my mum/dad/relative get into trouble?
No. Adults have the right to live the way they want to as long as they are not hurting anyone else. Even if the person you are caring for is doing something illegal, such as taking drugs, we are more interested in helping you than in getting them into trouble. You may also find that there is a lot of help available for the person you are caring for, and by coming forward you are helping them too.
If I tell you, will you tell lots of other people?
No. You have a right to privacy. We will always ask your permission before we speak to anyone else about your situation. Everyone who works with children and young people is bound by this rule.
The only time we would even consider talking about you to someone else without your permission is if we felt that you were in danger, and even then we would try to get in touch with you to talk about it first.
Will people treat me differently if they find out I am a young carer?
This is difficult to answer. But don’t let this worry stop you getting help.
We know that young carers are worried that they will be bullied if people find out. However, we also know that people who bully others often do so because they feel the person they are bullying is ‘strange’ or ‘different’. There are many thousands of young carers in this country, there is nothing strange about it. The more young carers who come forward and are open about who they are, the less likely they are to be bullied. If you do find that you are getting bullied, there are lots of things we can do to help.
Make yourself safe first - you can’t help anyone else unless you are safe.
Call 999 if you think that you or the person you care for is in danger. No-one will mind if the situation turns out to be not as serious as you thought, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you need help outside office hours, then contact:
- NHS Direct on: 0845 46 47
- Emergency Duty Team on : 01454 615 165
Making an emergency plan
Think about making an emergency plan. If the person you care for is suddenly taken ill:
- who do you call?
- where will you stay?
- who will look after any younger brothers or sisters?
- how will you get to school?
Keep details of people like doctors, hospital consultants, social workers and other professionals easy to find.
Write down a list of any medication that the person you care for may be taking (include illegal drugs, if you know them).
If the person you care for is sick, keep an emergency bag ready with clothes for an overnight stay.
Make plans to stay with a friend or relative if the person you care for is not able to look after you. If your emergency plans break down, then social workers will help you, but it is always better to have planned ahead.
Are there friends or neighbours that you can ask for help in an emergency?
Try to keep a small amount of money on you, including change for bus fares or payphones.
If you have a mobile, keep it charged and keep it with you. If you don’t have a mobile, we may be able to get one for you.
Childline - feeling low and that you have no-one you can talk to 0800 11 11
Off the Record, Bristol (ages 11 - 25) 0808 808 9120
Mon: 9:30am to 5pm, Tues and Weds: 9:30am to 8pm, Thurs: 9:30am to 1:30pm.
- Young carers website from the Princess Royal Trust
- Cancer - Rip Rap - for young people living with a family member with cancer
- Mental health
- Alcohol - AlaTeeen - for young people living with an person who misuses alcohol
- Drugs - living with people with a drug addiction
- Women's aid (domestic violence) pages for young people
- Off the Record
- Bristol Black Carers
Care Direct Opening Hours
8.30am - 5pm Monday to Friday (answerphone outside office hours)
- Work: 0117 922 2700
- Text phone: 0117 903 6689
- Fax: 0117 903 6688