HUNDREDS of young people are "missing out on their childhoods" because they are looking after family or friends, it is claimed.

New research published to mark Young Carers' Awareness Day shows that as many as eight-in-ten children caring for a loved one are robbed of the chance to see friends, enjoy hobbies or complete their homework.

The Carers' Resource charity supported the day of action by raising awareness of the challenges faced by child carers in the district – some as young as five – as they look after someone with an illness or disability.

Among carers locally is 11-year-old Callum Filkin, from Cross Hills.

He helps look after his brother Alfie, three, who has Down's Syndrome and a heart defect.

Callum helps his mum Lisa to change Alfie's dressings, take him his medicines and calm him when he gets distressed.

And he performs household tasks such as putting out the bins.

"It's a bit hard being a young carer as you've got to do all these things that you may not like but it's what I do – I just get on with it," said Callum, a pupil at Glusburn Community Primary School.

"I'm a young carer and I'm proud of it. I have to help, so I do.

"People who know me know I'm a young carer and I get respect for it – my best friend says I'm a good person."

Alfie has been in and out of hospital for various procedures to help him develop physically, including being fitted with a gastrostomy tube so he can be fed through his stomach.

Single mum Lisa, 45, a former nurse, pays tribute to the support Callum receives from the Skipton-based Carers' Resource young carers service.

And Callum himself says he enjoys spending time with other carers his age.

"It's good to be with kids who are going through similar things – I don't have to explain it to them," he said.

"But I don't feel like I'm missing out – I do the young carers stuff, go to youth club, play football and go to the cinema with my friend.

"Alfie loves music and dancing and we have fun. We also have messy play and play with cars together."

Carers' Resource works with schools, support services, families and health professionals to identify young carers across the district and ensure they are getting the backing they need.

Director Chris Whiley said: "The national research paints a bleak picture and mirrors what we see on the ground here in Craven, as we work hard to support the growing number of young carers.

"Their caring role never stops – whether they are at home or at school – and neither does the burden of worry that they shoulder.

"We would like them to live a full life like their friends. and have developed a range of specialist support and advice to help them go a long way towards achieving this."

Visit, e-mail or call 01756 700888 for more details about the help available.