Your opportunity to tell your story about your experience of bringing up your younger brother or sister

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Most people know that families are not always two parents bringing up their children, and that, for lots of reasons, sometimes children are brought up by someone who isn’t their mother or father. What is less commonly known is that in some of these families, it is an older sister or brother who is the main carer for their younger sibling(s). In fact, one study found that in England in 2011, as many as 23% of relatives caring for children who weren’t their birth children were older siblings – that is 35,200 people! But despite this being the experience for a lot of families in the UK, very little is known about what it is like to be a carer for your sibling.

Who am I and why am I doing this research?

I became interested in sibling carers because I was a sibling carer for my younger brother, and when I started working in research, I realised there wasn’t really anything out there about families like mine. Lots of research about ‘kinship’ families focused on the experiences of grandparents. While that is very important, I felt like the stories of siblings would be different to those of grandparents and their grandchildren. So I applied for funding to explore this with other sibling carers.

Who can take part?

I am looking to interview people (18+) who live in the UK and have experience of being the main carer for their sibling. Your sibling should have been under 18 when they came to live with you, but don’t need to be under 18 now. It doesn’t matter how or why you became their main carer – I am interested in hearing all stories from different perspectives and experiences.

What is involved in participating?

If you decide you’d like to take part, you can get in touch and we will have an initial conversation about the research. If you choose to take part in an interview, you can decide where and when would be best for you – this can be in person, online, or on the phone. I will talk you through a task that you can complete before the interview to help you prepare. When we do the interview together, the main focus will be on your telling your story, so I won’t talk very much, and I will ask questions and give prompts that help you to tell me about your life. That means that the interview can take different amounts of time depending on how much you want to say, but it is usually about an hour.

What next?

You can look at the information sheet which will give you more information about the research and taking part. If you think you might be interested, or would just like to know more, you can send me an email

This blog post was originally published by Lorna Stabler.