Young Carers

A young carer is someone aged under 18 years old who cares for or is affected by someone else at home - usually a parent or sibling. Young carers can benefit from the caring contribution they make. It can provide them with personal skills and an important role in the family, which enables them to demonstrate their commitment and affection. However, the demands of caring can also be onerous and can have an adverse impact on young carers’ health and wellbeing. The responsibilities of caring can deny a young person their rights and can compromise their safety. Many young carers go unnoticed or unrecognised, until there is a crisis.
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The person they care for may suffer from:

  • mental health problems
  • disability
  • long term ill-health
  • drug and alcohol misuse

Caring responsibilities can affect a young person:

  • Emotionally - Putting other people’s needs first, being worried, anxious or stressed. Feelings of guilt, anger, being trapped, isolated and being misunderstood.
  • Physically - Suffering from pains or strains from heavy lifting or helping someone to wash or dress.
  • Socially - Not able to meet up with friends regularly. Feeling isolated and lacking confidence. A possible target for being bullied.
  • Educationally - Difficulties concentrating in class, feeling tired, worried, with no time to do homework.
  • Financially - Low family income. Not having enough money for basic needs.


Often, family members do not want people outside the home to know that someone is needs support. They may fear that the family could become separated.

Young carers are sometimes forced to grow up early and miss out on the same opportunities as other children of their caring responsibilities. Some of these children are not only losing their childhoods they are also missing out on vital school and training, which potentially has a negative impact on the rest of their lives.

The level and type of care undertaken by a young carer varies according to their individual circumstance.

Across Edinburgh and the Lothians there are a number of local organisations that support young carers. They may signpost young people to other groups.

In Edinburgh - the Young Carers Project – supports carers from 5 to 20 years old.

The Broomhouse Young Carers Project meets in Broomhouse and the North West Carers Centre has a young carers project.

East Lothian Young Carers supports carers from 5-24 years old.

The Bridges Project supports young people in East Lothian and Midlothian to help them manage the transition from adolescence to young adulthood and life beyond school.

In Midlothian the Young Carers Service is for young people aged seven to 18 years.

In West Lothian the Young Carers Project is for carers up to aged between eight and 18 years old.

Last Reviewed: 15/09/2016