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Active Hastings: Care for the Carers works in partnership with local organisations in support of young carers

First parliamentary inquiry into young carers reveals devastating impact on life opportunities

The first ever parliamentary inquiry into young and young adult carers has revealed a lack of support is having a huge impact on their education, wellbeing and future prospects. Cally Emerson reports.

An inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Young Carers and Young Adult Carers, supported by national charity Carers Trust, published its findings on 14 November. It shows that 15,000 children, including 3,000 aged just five to nine, spend 50 hours or more a week looking after family members because of illness, disability or addiction.

There are an estimated one million young carers in the UK and the time they spend caring can lead to them falling behind at school and damage their life opportunities.

A young carer is someone aged under 18 who cares for a friend or family member who, due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an alcohol or substance misuse problem, cannot manage without the young carer’s support. Young adult carers are aged 16 to 25, who may have different support needs to young carers as they become adults.

Many are not being identified by local authorities or schools and this is leading to a postcode lottery of support. The inquiry heard some are being left to cope alone for 10 years before being identified, while evidence to the inquiry showed the average waiting time to get support is three years.

Duncan Baker MP, chair of the inquiry and vice-chair of the APPG, said: “Our inquiry has heard truly concerning evidence from young carers and those who support them. Some young children spend 50 hours a week caring, while young adult carers have their chances of getting good GCSE results, going to university or getting a job drastically reduced by their caring role. The wildly uneven support available across the country shows an urgent need for the Government and Parliament to work together to transform the landscape.

“It’s up to all of us to give these young people a better start in life so we also need local authorities, health providers, schools, employers, and regulators to join in and help young carers. This is why the All-Party Parliamentary Group is calling on the Government for a national carers strategy to co-ordinate support right across the country.”

The inquiry heard from 70 individuals and organisations including young carers services, schools and parents. Most powerfully, it heard from more than 400 young and young adult carers around the country, with many speaking about the difficulties they encountered in not being identified as a young carer, including a lack of support from schools, local authorities and other services. This lack of help often continued into early adulthood.

Holly, a 21-year-old young adult carer and youth advisor to the inquiry, said: “I’ve been helping to take care of my younger sister ever since she was born, but I only got identified as a young carer when I turned 14. The inquiry results clearly show many other young carers aren’t being identified. Even when they are, they don’t always get the help they need. Caring impacts not just your everyday life but also your dreams for the future, especially when you’re not given the support you desperately need. It’s crucial for those in charge to take their responsibilities seriously, be held accountable, and stop thousands of young people falling through the cracks.”

To coincide with the report release, a group of young carers handed an open letter in at 10 Downing Street on 14 November demanding Prime Minister Rishi Sunak does more to help. The letter has been signed by more than 1,100 young and young adult carers.

Responding to the report, Carers Trust’s CEO, Kirsty McHugh, said: “This damning report, supported by Carers Trust, should be a wake-up call that young carers are being horribly let down by the system. They are facing huge disadvantages when it comes to education, job prospects and wellbeing, all because they put their loved ones first. As the social care system struggles to cope with demand, these young people are having to fill the gaps. Support needs to be ramped up across the board and there’s a critical need for a long-term strategy to ensure a fair future for every young carer.”

In East Sussex there are an estimated 15,000 young carers, but only 232 were identified through the Schools Census in 2023.  There are many reasons why young carers are not identified but as this report shows, the impact can be life changing.

Young Carers take part in various activities at Care for the Carers’ Young Carers groups

Care for the Carers, the carers centre for East Sussex, runs a service which allows young carers to meet others in similar situations and most importantly, just have fun!  With no criteria other than being a young carer aged 5-17 and living in East Sussex, it enables young carers to access activities and support earlier. The service includes monthly youth clubs, outings and activities throughout the school holidays as well as information, support and signposting.

Jennifer Twist, Care for the Carers’ Chief Executive said, “This report clearly shows that young carers in East Sussex are in need of our support. We want to ensure that our local community recognises and supports young carers, so they know that they are not left to care alone.”

If you are a young carer or young adult carer, or know someone who is and would like to know more about the support the Care for the Carers provides, you can find out more by emailing, or phoning 01323 738390.

About Care for the Carers

Care for the Carers is the Carers Centre for East Sussex and an independent charity supporting carers across the county. A carer is anyone who looks after someone who could not manage without their support; there are thousands of carers across the county.

The charity is commissioned to provide services to carers by East Sussex County Council and the NHS.

The charity provides free practical and emotional advice to carers and a range of services. Services include referrals to other local services, outreach support, one-to-one crisis help and guidance, coaching, training, wellbeing and support groups, activities and counselling. They strive to create carer friendly communities and peer support opportunities across East Sussex.

Their work ensures that no one is left to care alone. Further information is available at:, by phoning 01323 738390 or

About the APPG on Young Carers and Young Adult Carers

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Young Carers and Young Adult Carers brings together Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum who are committed to improving the lives of young carers and young adult carers. The group’s mission is to provide a forum for key issues affecting young carers and young adult carers which will be addressed collaboratively by Parliamentarians and other key stakeholders, including young carers and young adult carers.

APPGs are informal groups of Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords with a common interest in particular issues. APPG publications are not an official House of Commons or House of Lords publication and they have not been approved by either House or its committees. The views expressed in the report are those of the APPG.

About Carers Trust

Carers Trust is the UK charity working to transform the lives of unpaid carers across the UK.  It partners with its network of local carer organisations to provide funding and support, deliver innovative and evidence-based programmes and raise awareness & influence policy.​ Carers Trust’s vision is that unpaid carers are heard and valued, with access to support, advice and resources to enable them to live fulfilled lives. Visit

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Posted 15:29 Monday, Nov 20, 2023 In: Campaigns

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