Minister: Wrong that carers feel hidden and neglected

The government's care minister says more must be done to help young adults who look after unwell or disabled relatives.

Norman Lamb was quizzed for Newsbeat by 18-year-old Pippa Haines from Southampton, who's been a carer since she was four.

The Liberal Democrat said: "You should be open about it [caring], proud of it, and supported in doing it.

"We've got to escape from this sense that you feel hidden and neglected."

Pippa took a list of points to the minister that were raised by young adult carers in Radio 1 Stories: Keeping Mum, broadcast on Radio 1 on 8 October.

She told him the list "includes more support in schools and colleges".

'Incredible burden'

He replied: "We've established a £127m fund which goes to colleges and further education, to support learning. Young carers can apply for that.

Rebekah Clark and Ashleigh
Rebekah Clark, 21, with disabled older sister Ashleigh

"We must do more to spread the message both in colleges and universities about the need to be much more flexible."

He went on: "This isn't always about what government does in terms of acts of parliament.

"This is about getting all of the people involved - schools, colleges, GPs also - to up their game."

Pippa said: "Because I work more than 21 hours, I can't seek Carer's Allowance.

"At college, all full-time courses are more than 21 hours."

The minister responded: "I do recognise there is a problem with cut-offs. This is one of very many issues I want to look at."

"We just want someone who's there for us," said Pippa.

"Sometime I just feel like I cannot cope and there is nowhere to turn."

The minister said: "This is an incredible burden that many youngsters have to face.

"They should be respected for that, and acknowledged for it, not denigrated for it."

Keeping Mum

Pippa won a 2011 Radio 1 Teen Hero award for her work looking after her disabled mum, her sister with mental health problems, and her autistic nephew.

She admits in a Radio 1 documentary that she thinks about jumping off a bridge when the pressure of her caring role feels too much.

"When it gets to that stage, you wonder why is there no support," says Pippa.

A group of other young adult carers discuss with her and Radio 1's Greg James the lives they lead and the difficulties they face in their caring roles.

JLS star Oritse Williams, whose mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was 11, also shared his story.

Radio 1 Stories: Keeping Mum is available on the BBC iPlayer. Tweet @BBCR1 #keepingmum