THE BLOG

Giving Young Carers a Voice on Young Carers Awareness Day

26/01/2016 11:09 GMT | Updated 25/01/2017 10:12 GMT

Young Carers Awareness Day is on the 28th of January 2016, and it's a day of acknowledgment for the UK's 700,000 (and counting) young carers.

A young carer is somebody under the age of 18 who delivers unpaid care to a loved one who may suffer from physical or mental illness or substance misuse.

Awareness raising is vital, not only for identified young carers but also for those that are unidentified.

700,000 is an astoundingly large number especially when you break it down and really think about it. Each number that adds up to this staggering total represents just one young carer who has selflessly given up being young to look after somebody close to them. That's 700,000 young people missing out on an ordinary childhood.

A high percentage of these young people's education and social lives are affected in some way due to their caring responsibilities as well.

700,000 is the number of known young carers, there are still thousands of young carers out there who are still yet to be identified. They may be frightened that by telling somebody of their situation their family will be broken up. Young Carers Awareness Day will hopefully reassure and help to shed a bit more light on what a young carer is so that more young carers step forward and start to receive essential help and support for the whole family. Babble is a fantastic online forum where young carers can meet others in similar situations, share experiences and get support.

Young Carers Awareness Day will also give young carers a chance to express their opinions and put questions to decision makers, which will in turn help to shape the quality of help and support that young carers will continue to receive. Let's look at it like this:

Imagine going into a restaurant where there are no menus whatsoever and you are not allowed to speak. It is up to this bizarre establishment to choose what you will eat and drink. As you look around this strange restaurant you see that some people seem happy with what has been given to them and others look disappointed with the choice that has been presented to them, unfortunately they can't say anything about it because in this place you aren't allowed to speak. While you anxiously await your food to arrive you gaze across the road to another restaurant where people are happily chatting away to each other and the waiters are collecting menus from their hungry customers. Without a single thought you get up and leave and head over to the other restaurant where you know that you will be treated with respect and you have control over what you will and will not consume.

So just like the second restaurant, charities like Carers Trust caters to the specific needs of real carers, they listen to us and shape the service around what we want and need.

The carers' voice is crucial.

Young Carers Awareness Day is not only a day for raising awareness but it's also a day of celebration, celebrating the extraordinary caring young people from all over the country who give up their time to look after ill loved ones. For more information about Young Carers Awareness Day visit Carers Trust's website . You are encouraged to join in even if you are not a carer. Join our thunderclap on twitter here. So come one, come all and help us to raise awareness and applaud our nation's carers.