Heartache at Christmas for young carers

MORE than a quarter of young carers have had to wrap their own presents at Christmas because their parents are too ill or disabled to do so, and more than a fifth of them have gone without gifts at all in the past, according to new research from The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

The survey is a snapshot of 117 people aged five to 18 who care for a sick or disabled family member, and it found that one in five of them finds Christmas day "tougher" or "sadder" than the rest of the year, as support services are reduced and their parents are under greater financial stress.

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Almost a third of the young carers surveyed will be responsible for cooking Christmas dinner. More than a third will spend in excess of six hours in their caring role on Christmas day.

Carole Cochrane, Chief Executive at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, says: "It is heart-breaking to see how many young carers will struggle this Christmas. Many of the young carers we surveyed wished for their family member to get better rather than get the latest toy. Sadly for them Christmas is just like any other day."

Young carers can get advice and support during the Christmas period by visiting The Princess Royal Trust for Carers' website YCNet.carers