“You can’t act as a child, you just have to think like an adult” – Two young carers talk about splitting their time between going to school and caring for their parents, and the support they’ve had from young carers projects.
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You can’t act as a child, you just have to think like an adult
and just think, “What do you do?”
You can’t sit there going, “What do I do?” and act all dumb.
You just have to quickly think on your feet and just do what you do.
The arthritis had a big impact
because me and Jack used to go out with our friends and go to the cinema,
but now when we wake up in the mornings
Mum asks us to do stuff and we do it.
The first time she said do the washing-up
we started moaning, “We don’t want to do it because it’s boring,”
but now it’s all right because we’re used to it.
Mum used to be able to run around and now she can hardly walk.
I have to do a lot, but it’s for my mum
so I feel that I have to do it because I’m the older one.
Young carers are any child or young person
who’s taking on the kind of caring responsibilities
that you’d normally expect an adult to take on.
It’s called cervical spondolosis, which is arthritis in the neck,
but it’s beginning to go into other joints as well now,
so I’m getting quite a lot of pain all the time now.
It does restrict me for carrying baskets of washing
and standing and cooking and carrying a Hoover around,
so I get quite a lot of help from the rest of the family with those things.
I have nerve damage in both of my feet,
I have arthritis on the right side of my body
and I have sclerosis in my back, a crooked spine…
There’s damage in three places with the spine.
And I have… my hands, I have quite bad pain in both.
I can’t pick anything up.
There’s the hoovering and the washing and the ironing,
but I think I’ve just got used to it, so I just do it and then it’s done quickly.
And then the cooking I do every night and in the morning, the breakfast.
Shopping, I sometimes get help with my nan
but if not then I have to do it myself.
And I suppose just writing letters,
going to the doctor’s, making appointments for my mum,
calling up hospitals and things like that.
Jamie’s six years old, Lewis and Jack’s youngest brother.
He’s got some emotional and anxiety problems
and some issues with behaviour
and most days it’s a bit of a roller coaster.
This also involves Lewis and Jack helping quite a lot
because he’s very physical.
Looking after Jamie is very hard work
and it’s a joint effort of me and my mum.
She sits down with him and stuff like that,
but I have to wake up in the middle of the night if he wakes up
and try and get him back to sleep because my mum needs more sleep.
I get a lot of help with housework from my brother Jack and stuff like that.
I do washing-up, he does hoovering.
But it all works out to be hard work
because you need a lot of sleep to do that
and you don’t get a lot with Jamie.
My mum always says, “Do your homework first,”
so I’m quickly doing that and trying to get that done
and then I’m, “I’ll leave that bit, I’ll do it later” and I go down.
Even though Mum says, “It’s important, Kelly,”
to me that’s not important,
Mum’s the important one at the end of the day,
so sometimes when everyone’s in bed I sit there and do my homework.
But sometimes I’m just too tired to be doing it
and then I do it in school.
I do end up getting it done.
I worry about my future
because if I haven’t got the right grades in SATs
I might not be able to get the job that I want
and that might mean not being able to get around in life and stuff like that.
It is stressing and it does make me tired
and I go into school grumpy.
I don’t like it, I really don’t like it,
and it does make me just…
I can’t cry in school, I sit there and I’m like, “No, I won’t do it”
because I don’t want them to see me crying,
so I just go in and put on a front,
laugh about it, joke about it and then just come home,
back to doing what I do
and then just sit there when I’m on my own crying to myself
because I think that’s the only thing you can do.
Young carers often find that if they do talk to their teachers or their school,
the school will be really sympathetic,
and it’s just about having the courage to talk to them.
Miss Griffiths, her head of year, came to her and said,
“Kelly, there’s a group called the Carers.”
“Because your mum’s disabled I think you should go and speak to them.”
So Kelly went and spoke to them and she came home with a load of leaflets.
To be honest, we didn’t even know it existed.
Since I’ve found out about the Young Carers
and got to meet the other people in Young Carers
and meet new friends and be able to go out,
it’s hard because you’re still worrying about what’s happening at home
but there’s people there that are like you
and that are in your situation as well
that you can sit and have a laugh with and have a joke
and you know that they will understand if you talk to them.
I can go there, I can watch movies,
I can talk to people about family problems
and they won’t start taking the mickey and stuff.
And we’ve just had a new chill-out room made where you can…
When I get stressed out, if I go there I can sit on the massage chair
and if I need to catch up on a bit of sleep I can have a little lie-down.
Young carers need advice and support
about what kind of options they’ve got as they become young adults.
Often we find that there could be more support that could be got into the home,
so that they’re not leaving the person without any support if they leave home.
You can find your nearest Young Carers project
by going to youngcarers.net
or by asking a local youth worker or a teacher at your school.
To be perfectly honest, if Kelly wanted to go off,
I would let her go off
because I’ve always said to them,
“Sometimes you have to do things on your own
because I’m not going to always be around.”
And I would let Kelly go.