Sibs is the only UK charity representing the needs of siblings of disabled people. There are over half a million young siblings and at least 1.7 million adults siblings in the UK, who have grown up with a disabled brother or sister.
Siblings have a lifelong need for information, they often experience social and emotional isolation, and have to cope with difficult situations. They also want to have positive relationships with their disabled brothers and sisters and to be able to choose the role they play in future care and support. Read Sibs’ aims and history.
Facts and stats about young siblings
- There are over half a million siblings of disabled children and young people in the UK. 5.1% of children under 16 are siblings of disabled children.
- Children and young people growing up with a disabled brother or sister get less attention from parents and have more worries and responsibilities than their peers.
- They are more likely than their peers to experience public prejudice, family breakdown, bereavement and poverty. As a consequence, young siblings are vulnerable to isolation, bullying, reduced wellbeing and problems with progress at school. (Goudie, A., Havercamp, S., Jamieson, B., & Sahr, T. (2013). Assessing functional impairment in siblings living with children with disability.Pediatrics)
- A third of siblings are living in families who are going without heating or food (Contact a Family)
- Half of young carers in the UK are siblings of disabled children. These siblings are more likely than the national average to be “not in education, employment or training” (Neet) between the ages of 16 and 19. (The Children’s Society (2013). Hidden from view. The experiences of young carers in England)
- Cuts to services for families of disabled children have increased the negative impact of disability on siblings and reduced siblings’ access to community sibling groups and children’s mental health services.(Life to the Full report, Demos, 2015)
- The positives acquired by siblings such as tolerance, patience and kindness, are rarely acknowledged by schools and children’s service providers.
For research on the needs of siblings and research references read Needs of young siblings and Sibs’Young-siblings-research-evidence-review-March-2014
Sibs’ work to support young siblings
- Sibs runs YoungSibs, an online support service for young siblings aged 6 -17
- Sibs trains professionals in children’s services across the UK to run sibling groups
- Sibs runs workshops for parents on supporting siblings
Facts and stats about adult siblings
- There are an estimated 1.7 million adult siblings in the UK who have grown up with a disabled brother or sister
- Adult siblings, in particular those who have a brother or sister with a lifelong learning disability or autism provide support, advocacy and care for their brothers and sisters, at the same time as juggling support and care for their elderly parents, their own children, and their work.
- They rarely receive any acknowledgement of their role, information about service provision, or support for their own needs.
- They have experienced a lifetime of their needs coming second to that of another person
- They are vulnerable to isolation, are at risk for anxiety and depression, and may have reduced opportunities for work and further education
- Involvement, through choice, of adult siblings in support planning and service delivery protects their disabled brothers and sisters from neglect and poor quality of life
- Adult siblings don’t self-identify as part of a community of interest which makes them a hard to reach group
Sibs’ work to support adult siblings
- Sibs is developing a UK wide network of support groups for adult siblings of people with a learning disability or autism
- Sibs runs workshops for adult siblings and provides phone support
- Sibs produces guides for adult siblings on practical and emotional issues
Social media links
Sibs’ media contact and spokesperson
Monica McCaffrey, CEO, Sibs
tel 01535 645453
Available for comments on the impact of welfare cuts on siblings; providing case studies for journalists; consultations around policy affecting siblings; contacts from regional press to promote adult sibling support in UK regions.