Dustin McCauley-Brown from Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, studies full-time and works in Home Bargains at the weekend. Dustin said day-to-day life was “really busy and stressful”, as he has to balance assignments and care.
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“I never really get a chance to switch off,” he said.
The Welsh government said it was doing an “enormous” amount to support unpaid caretakers, such as the £500 to those who receive Carers Allowance.
Dustin, 19, is one of more than 580,000 people in Wales – about 16% of the population – who provide unpaid care for family or friends.
He has been looking after his mother, who has a degenerative spine condition, for four years.
“It’s something I’ve grown used to, and it’s become normalised,” he said. “I don’t think people realise how much of an impact it can have on your life.”
Dustin said he would like more financial support and recognition for caretakers in Wales.
“We’re not asking for anything special; we just want to live like everybody else,” he said.
“Carers are the backbone of society; without them, the NHS and social services would crumble.”
A Welsh government spokesperson said: “We recognise the vital contribution that unpaid carers make to families across Wales and are committed to supporting them.
“This includes providing an additional £500 to all caretakers in receipt of Carers Allowance, as well as free prescriptions and dental check-ups.”
The spokesperson said the Carers Grant had also been increased by £1m to £5.5m.
“We are also working with local authorities, health boards and the third sector to develop a new carer’s strategy which will set out how we further improve support for carers in Wales,” they added.
“The first consultation phase on the strategy closed on 31 October, and we will publish the next steps in due course.”
The UK government said it was “committed to supporting carers”.
A spokesperson said: “We recognise their vital contribution to families and communities across the UK.
“That is why we have provided an extra £2bn for adult social care since 2018, including an extra £1bn this year alone.”
The spokesperson said the government was also working with devolved administrations to “look at how we can further support carers”.
“We are committed to ensuring that people who need care and support get the help they need, whether paid for or provided by family, friends and volunteers,” they added.
According to the most recent figures from the Welsh government, there are an estimated 583,000 unpaid caretakers in Wales – about 16% of the population.
Of those, about 19% are young caretakers aged between five and 17.
More than half of all carers in Wales say they have had to give up work, education or training due to their caring responsibilities.
And more than a third say they have been left with no choice but to reduce their working hours.
Official figures also suggest that the value of unpaid care provided by people in Wales is worth more than £5bn to the economy each year.
What do you think about the support available for carers in Wales?