Young carers' experiences of having a “buddy” on the Buddies for Children and Youngsters programme in Denmark – A qualitative interview study

Karina B. Nissen*, Sisse H. Laursen, Helle Haslund‐Thomsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This qualitative study sheds light on how some young carers aged between 6- and 16-years experienced participation in a volunteer respite programme named Buddies for Children and Youngsters (BCY). The programme was held in Northern Denmark and was based on the knowledge that young carers need a space for respite and support through conversation. The young carers were healthy children who had experienced serious, chronic somatic or mental illness and/or death in their immediate family. Over a minimum 4-month period, students (“buddies”) from University College of Northern Denmark offered respite to young carers in the form of their preferred social or other activities. From February to August 2020, 12 semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with young carers who had participated in the programme for at least 4 months. A thematic analysis generated four main themes: (1) A “buddy” is someone special, (2) feeling happier and less lonely, (3) Experiencing a social and personal influence, and (4) Experiencing influence on family life. Most of the young carers experienced a special relationship with their “buddy” – a relationship unlike but with some similarities to their relationships with peer friends and family, and one which gave them the opportunity for conversations about difficult topics. The time spent with the “buddy” was generally experienced as a respite space, leading to feelings of being happier and less lonely. Furthermore, for some of the young carers, the relationship influenced them socially and personally and caused their parents to pay more attention to them. The findings may increase awareness of young carers' experiences of support which can benefit future initiatives provided to this group.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)e2849-e2857
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • children as relatives
  • psychosocial support
  • respite programme
  • undergraduate students
  • volunteers
  • young carers


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