Today is Young Carers Awareness Day

How many of you know a young carer?

Today we are celebrating the contributions many of our young people make as carers. It is Young Carers Awareness Day.

Caring can take many forms – a sibling caring for another sibling with a learning disability, a child looking after a parent, a young person helping aid a grandparent.

The world of care is diverse and often misunderstood, and many of our young carers are overlooked. They are balancing their care responsibilities with school work and sometimes have little time left over.

One issue I wanted to explore here is the symbiotic value of care. Yes, young carers are taking time to look after their relative, but what do they get in return? Not pay, in most cases. But they do get relationship.

Spending time together, in a care situation, creates an intimacy not found elsewhere. The relationship that develops can be deeper than it would have been without the aspect of care. The dimensions giving and receiving care adds to a relationship are profound.

If we look at the care a parent gives a child, and that a child receives from the parent, we would recognise the depth of love that develops in the parent giving that care. Nothing quite replaces the sleepless nights and seemingly endless tasks that are the basis for that parent-child relationship of mutuality.

That same depth of relationship is experienced by our young carers. Yes, the care responsibilities might be burdensome, and perhaps other means should be put in place so that not so much is expected of our young people, but we must recognise that there are relational benefits in giving care.

It is balance, and not asking our young people to give too much, that must be addressed. Today’s focus for Young Carers Awareness Day is mental health. Giving our young carers the support they need and picking up on mental health concerns early, is key.

We must acknowledge the inadequate support given to our young carers as a result of austerity and budget cuts. And we also recognise so much more money is needed for children and young people’s mental health care in general.

Our support for young carers should not be based on the suggestion they are harmed by giving care, but rather our support should enable them to carry out caring relationships that can give joy and fulfilment.

* Kirsten Johnson was the PPC for Oxford East in the 2017 General Election. She is a pianist and composer at

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.

One Comment

  • Jayne Mansfield 31st Jan '19 - 9:41pm

    @ Kirsten,

    I agree.

    I spent my teens working as a volunteer in a children’s home having been exposed to the emotional needs of children in care following a visit to the home to undertake a Girl Guides Badge in child care.

    The care that children sometimes have to give to a relative is of a different order. Whilst the giving of care does have a symbiotic relationship, the care that some young children have to give to a relative, robs them of a childhood, it is too much of a burden to ask of them.

    The burden put upon children is shameful and heartbreaking, Their love and support for others should be met for love and support for them. Too often it is not.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Chris Moore
    Mick, our record at holding by-elections in the current political generation, i.e. last 25 years, has been distorted by the wipe out in 2015, at which point we ...
  • Mick Taylor
    I reject emphatically the idea that Corbyn was as toxic for Labour as militant. He actually did quite well in 2017 and only started doing badly when the entire ...
  • Mick Taylor
    @Roger Billins. I was 12 when the Liberals won Orpington and helped with the campaign. Eric held the seat for 8 years and then lost it in the disastrous electio...
  • John Marriott
    @David Raw Thanks for thinking of me. I’ve been on a bit of a self imposed sabbatical from LDV, which looks like being permanent. I think I’ve ruffled too ...
  • Tristan Ward
    @Paul Barker "everyone is running down the Solid Labour win in Wakefield" Seems about right to me: 12.75 % compared to our 30% swing 39% turnout (be...