What is a Young Carer?

Definition of a young carer

A young carer is somebody who cares for or is affected by someone else at home – usually a parent or sibling – who suffers from physical or mental ill health, or who has substance misuse issues. Edinburgh Young Carers works with young people aged 5 to 25 years old.

The person they care for may suffer from:

  • mental health problems
  • disability
  • chronic ill-health
  • drug and alcohol misuse

Caring responsibilities

Caring responsibilities can affect a young person:


Putting other people’s needs first, being worried, anxious or stressed. Feelings of guilt, anger, being trapped, isolated and being misunderstood


Suffering from pains or strains from heavy lifting or helping someone to wash or dress


Not able to meet up with friends regularly, feeling isolated and lacking confidence. A possible target for bullying


Difficulties concentrating in class, feeling tired, worried, with no time to do homework


Low family income; not having enough money for basic needs.

Most young carers go unnoticed or unrecognised, until there is a crisis.

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

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

Young carers’ rights

Edinburgh Young Carers is committed to the promotion of the rights of children and young people and in particular:

“Every young carer is a unique individual”

All young carers have the right to:

  • Make their own decisions and choices, (to be a child, a carer or both).
  • Be heard, listened to and believed.
  • Protection from physical and psychological harm.
  • Information and choice.
  • Stop physically caring.

All young carers have the right to be consulted about issues that affect them, to be supported to participate and to have their views taken fully into account.