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Being a young carer

hi sam. i think that i am a young carer but i am not sure. My younger brother is 10, he has down syndrome ,autism and other conditions. I love him a lot but sometimes i feel like i dont get enough attention, my mum relies on me too heavily and i feel lots of pressure for the future for when my mum is no longer here. I know that without me there my mum wouldnt be able to do it alone, at times i feel guilty for going out if my brother is unwell but i also feel responsible for him and always feel anxious about whether or not hes okay. i dont know whether this is normal or not, or if i am even a young carer. i often take my younger brother to the toilet and help with his personal needs especially when my mum is not around. frequently i get frustrated with my sibling if he doesnt listen or does something he is not supposed too. usually i feel guilty after feelinh this way. most of all i feel afraid about looking after my brother in the future as i am his only sibling and have been told this will be my responsibility. please help

Ask Sam

Sam

Hi there

Young carers are young people under the age of 18 who help look after a relative with a disability, illness or mental health condition. You don’t need to spend all of your time caring for them to be a carer. It also doesn’t need to be an adult you care for as lots of young carers help to look after a brother or sister.

When you have a sibling who needs a lot of care or whose behaviour is challenging, you might feel frustrated and upset. It’s always okay to ask for help from the adults you live with and you should be allowed to choose how much support you’re able to give.

Helping to care for a family member shouldn’t affect your school or college work or stop you being able to socialise. Looking after someone does take time so it might mean you need to plan things more carefully and have more notice of when your friends are going out. No one should make you feel pressured to do more than you’re willing to do and you shouldn’t be left alone to care for someone you don’t feel able to.

You might not have realised that what you do is giving care as it might be what’s expected where you live. No matter what those around you expect it’s important that you have time to do the things that you need to do and that you don’t take on more responsibilities than you’re ready for.

There may be other people at home who are also caring for the same person. Your sibling’s wellbeing and safety are not just your responsibility and if you feel you are doing too much, it’s okay to tell your parents or carer about this.

Feeling overwhelmed or like you’re struggling to cope can build up over time so talk to someone about how you feel and what you need. You can get advice and support from the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053. Remember that counsellors at Childline are also available to talk to if you need some support.

Thank you for your letter

Take care,

Sam

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