Thursday 10 June 2021

Our young carer for Carers Week

About once a week Jane is late for school. To be honest our timing's in the morning are quite tight anyway and it’s always a chance that something might happen on our way to school but could make us late. But in most circumstances the truth is that Jane is late to school because she is a young carer.

Jane is young care because she has siblings who happen to have disabilities. She doesn’t have specific caring duties for them. It’s not Jane’s responsibility in the morning to get them up or get them dressed, to make sure they’ve got breakfast or all the right things they need for school. That falls to us.

She was in fact ready to leave early. But one of her brothers, who happens to be autistic was not having a productive morning. By the time it was almost time to leave the house on the school run, David had only just started eating breakfast and still had to get dressed and brush his teeth. 

David goes to a specialist school just 8 minutes walk from Jane's school down the road. But they both have drop off times at the same in the morning.  They both have a slot to be at their class between 8.40-8.50.  It means it's tight every day. 

Today, in the end Jane was 7 minutes late for school.  She took it in her stride - it's not unusual for her.  It's not usual for day to be disrupted, shuffled or even cancelled as the family works around the needs of all our kids.  Things other people take for granted can't work for Jane because of the caring duties of the adults in the family too. 

But Jane does so much more then just put up with her life being put on hold and changed all the time. Like half of all young carers in the UK, she plays a role in caring for her siblings.  Jane has two older brothers, but most of the time she is the one looking out for them.  Her eldest brother, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at 4 and ADHD at 7 and her younger older brother (the one in the middle), David, was also diagnosed with autism before his fourth birthday.  

She watches them eat dinner while I’m clearing up. She talks to her brother in single words so that he is able to understand.  She helps him follow instructions like holding hands when we get out the car.  She creates activities in the house just so they can be involved in them.  She comes to get us when they need help and can't ask us themselves.  She knows strategies to help them calm down if they suddenly get upset near her.   She knows to move away when they become violent and what to say to help.    She's even stepped up to help them when they could have been hurt

Like many siblings, she also offer emotional support such as helping their brother or sister to socialise and teaching them skills such as reading. We like many families of disabled children would struggle to cope without their support and siblings are acutely aware of the challenges their families face. For above all she also continuously advocates for her brothers amongst those people she meets.

Usually during this Carers Week (7th – 13th June 2021), I highlight the caring role I play as my boys parent-carer.  But this year has been different.  During the pandemic, many more siblings have become young carers as families have relied on their support when external services have had to withdraw.  And like carers in general their contribution is often unnoticed and it's one I'd like to highlight. 

Research released for Carers Week found that carers lost, on average, 25 hours of support a month they previously had from services or family and friends before the pandemic. In this blog from My Family Our Needs, Clare Kassa, Chief Executive of the charity Sibs, shares how parents can support siblings who help care for a disabled child, but much of it can apply to others they spend their time with too.  


  1. Nice post and I hope she read it. Good to be recognised especially if not a paid role. #KCACOLS

  2. It's so so important to highlight the role siblings play in caring too - thank you for this post. And thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS x

  3. What a wonderful thing to read, how she helps an advocates in any way she can. I am shocked but sadly not surprised to read that people have lost 25 hours of support. It's been such a tough time and in ways that most people can't begin to understand. You must be so proud of your family.

    Katrina x


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