Resources and Help for Young Carers: the inspiring example of Ireland

Involving young people and young carers in particular in participatory and action research to inform decision-making at all levels of governance is, according to Nexus, an indispensable responsibility of youth workers interfacing with young people at risk of marginalisation. This is in fact the only way to bring out the voice of those who are too often not heard, to recognise them, to see them protected and supported formally. First among the invisible in our societies are the young caregivers. Only a few European countries, those most sensitive to the issue of young carers, offer a variety of services and care interventions aimed at this target group.

In Ireland, for example, a wide range of supports and resources are available to help young carers. Schools in Ireland are becoming more sensitive to the needs of young caretakers providing counselling services as well as flexible educational arrangements. Public awareness initiatives seek to lessen the stigma attached to young carers’ obligations while highlighting the crucial role they play. At the same time, online networks and forums give young carers a place to connect with others who can relate to their struggles and offer them guidance. Young carers who may be stressed out or burnt out can receive specialised mental health care to address their emotional well-being and the Respite Care services give them a much-needed respite from their caring responsibilities. Some young carers may be also eligible for financial assistance through the carer’s allowance or other government programmes. There are several associations such as Young Carers Ireland which helps young carers manage their obligations by providing a range of services like respite breaks, peer support, and information sources; or Carers’ Associations to build a feeling of community and to link young carers with others facing similar challenges, local carers’ associations offer insightful advice.