What does it mean to be a carer? It's hard enough looking after yourself sometimes. And if you are looking after someone else, who's going to take care of YOU?

If you are affected by by the fact that a family member is ill, has a mental health condition, is disable or has problems with drugs or alcohol, then you are a carer.

There are about 5.2million carers in the UK. These "informal" carers are unpaid and are thought to save the UK up to £57billion a year. Parents and those in parenting roles are carers. But children and young people (brothers and sisters, close friends) can also be carers and are entitled to support, too.

Carers often don;t see themselves as doing anything "special" or out of the ordinary. They do it because they care. However, being a carer puts extra stresses and strains on us both physically and emotionally so it's even more important to remember to take care of yourself, too.

If you are going to take care of someone else, you need to think about yourself too and make sure you stay healthy. Get some tips about how to get fit and feel better  for a start. Young Carers.net is a very useful site which gives you ideas about how to look after yourself . They also have lots of information and ways to help you understand the illness or disability of the person you are looking after

It can be tough being a young carer. This video from ChildLine shows the pressures you can face when you feel like you've got no one to talk to.

The main CPFT site has information for young carers and also about support for young carers.  

If you live in the Peterborough area, get in touch with KIDS Peterborough Young Carers support. They can help you feel less isolated and stressed as well as help you with practical things and getting a break.

 You can join the online community for Young Carers.net and get involved in chat with other people or online youth workers, discussion boards, blogs and even share your story. They match new members with existing "buddies" to make sure you feel welcome and you can contribute your views on things which might improve services in the future.

And in this video from NHS Choices, two young carers talk about the reality of going to school and caring for their parents.

If you are struggling at school because of being a carer, take a look at our In education page for some suggestions on who you can talk to. Young Carers.net have suggestions for how teachers might help you.                                      

The page was last updated on 17 June 2014 by andrea.bateman.

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