Life as a young carer AND student

When you’re at college or university, it can seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day for all the studying, revising or essay writing you have to do.

Personally, some of that was down to procrastinating assignments until I suddenly had to complete them in one-sitting in a panic! But for some students, not only do they have all of the studying, revising or essay writing to do (and some procrastination thrown in), they’re also taking care of someone else. Our new website YACbook has been developed to help those who are students as well as young adult carers. 

What does it mean to be taking care of someone else?

When you think of the word ‘carer’, you may think of those who work in the care industry, caring for someone in a care facility or visiting them at their own house. Unless you’ve had experience being an unpaid carer yourself, you might not understand just what it means to be an unpaid carer, especially as a student. 

Carers Trust found that there are over 376,000 young adult carers in the UK who provide support, care and assistance to family or friends. These people may suffer with a physical disability, long term illness, a mental health issue or substance misuse. From doing things such as helping someone get out of bed, helping them get washed and dressed, to cooking meals, doing all of the cleaning and upkeep of the house or garden, to providing emotional support and more – the role of an unpaid carer can be incredibly demanding. 

What does a young adult carer’s role involve?

For a lot of young adult carers, (that’s unpaid carers aged 16-25), their caring role makes studying and education incredibly hard. Imagine getting up at 5am, helping someone get out of bed, dressing them, making them breakfast and giving them their medication before you’ve even had a chance to take care of yourself. Then having to go to a full day of lessons or revise for exams!

The launch of YACbook.co.uk

As part of Carer Support Wiltshire, YACbook has been developed to provide young adult carers with the advice and information they need, in a way that’s relevant to them. The internet can often be flooded with information and statistics around young adult carers. Despite this, carers told us that finding practical advice, a chance to talk to others or read stories of those in similar situations were often hard to come by. With the launch of YACbook, our aim is to expand nationwide, providing a safe space for young adult carers with information, advice, and links to support they can trust. 

Hidden carers 

The thing is – a lot of young adult carers don’t realise that’s exactly what they are – a carer. Looking after someone is just something they do or may have done for most of their lives. But it isn’t easy, especially if you aren’t aware of the support that’s out there for you. YACbook is here to change that. 

And don’t just take my word for it. Carers Trust found that young adult carers are four times more likely to drop out of university or college than other young adults. Many suffer from mental health problems or health conditions of their own on top of their responsibilities to look after someone else. 

Kerran’s story 

Kerran, a young adult carer from Wiltshire, has suffered from ‘education stress’ for most of his life. Looking after his mum and her partner whilst struggling with his own dyslexia meant that although he had big goals and ambitions, going to university seemed impossible for him. But through 1-1 support from Carer Support Wiltshire, a charity providing information, advice and support to unpaid carers, Kerran felt confident enough to apply to university. He was even able to discover what funding he was entitled to, in order to help him through his journey in higher education. 

“My Mum wants me to do a lot with my life. As much as I care for her, she helps to keep me and everything on track and in order. Meeting Andrea the young adult carer support worker made a massive impact on my decision to go to university.” Kerran, 18. 

Are you a young adult carer, or know someone who might be?

If you are a young adult carer or think you might be, check out our website. Here you can find information, tools and resources, and a handy myth-busting page to reassure your worries. 

And maybe, the next time you’re in a lesson, look around and consider just who might be juggling both caring for someone, caring for themselves, and studying. 

Follow YACbook on Twitter @YACbook, and Instagram @yacbook !

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Georgia Stone

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