Young Carers for people with Disabilities

What are young carers?

The BBC estimates that there are about 700,000 young carers in the UK. Being a young carer often means looking after a family member who is ill or helping them by looking after the other members of the family while they can’t.

Young carers often do more chores than other children would. On top of providing emotional support to the person they are caring for they may also have to learn how to nurse them or look after their personal needs like bathing and dressing.

It can be hard work being a young carer. Sometimes other children don’t understand your responsibilities and you have less free time than others.

Many young cope well with caring, especially if you have support from other family members and it’s important to look after yourself. You have the right to be looked after too and there are lots of places and people you can go to to get help.

Getting help

Sometimes, being a young carer can get too much to deal with on your own. If you’re having any of these feelings, talk to your teacher, school nurse, college counsellor or GP who can help you.

  • Stressed by too much responsibility
  • Physically tired
  • Worried about your relative’s health
  • Coping with other people’s mood
  • No time for yourself or your homework
  • Missing school
  • Feeling embarrassed about your situation
  • Being bullied
  • Low self-esteem, anxiety, anger or guilt

You’re not alone if any of these happen to you. Young carers miss an average of 48 days of school because of their role and 68% have been bullied at some point directly because of having to care for someone. Organisations set up to help young carers recognise all of these problems and have people and strategies to support you.

Even if you don’t feel like you need help for a problem, it is always good to have the support of others who understand your situation. Young carers groups run all around the UK to help with advice as well as giving you somewhere to let off steam and enjoy yourself.

Epilepsy & Bullying

Stigma and bullying

Stigma and bullying is common in epilepsy, often due to widespread misunderstanding about the condition. It can lead to the young person having low self-esteem and a reduction in motivation to engage with school learning and activities. The attitudes of their school, family and friends play an important role in the young person’s overall school experience and their wellbeing.

Many young people with epilepsy say they have encountered nastiness because of their condition. This can have a devastating impact on childhood, with many young people avoiding going to places where they might be the victim of ill-treatment.

Raising awareness of the basic facts about epilepsy will help to improve confidence, tolerance and inclusion as well as dispel unhelpful myths. Awareness raising should involve both pupils and school staff and can be done in a variety of ways, including:

  • Holding assemblies and lessons
  • Being alert to bullying
  • Developing ‘epilepsy-aware’ peer group
  • Arranging staff training

Schools need to ensure that awareness raising is handled sensitively and with the young person’s (and their parents’) support. Parents, charities and other outside agencies could contribute to the awareness raising activities.

Bullying is an additional stress to young people with epilepsy and stress is a common trigger for seizures. While many schools work hard to eliminate bullying, young people with epilepsy need to be recognised as particularly vulnerable.