Examples of Young Carers’ Stories: (All identifiable details have been changed.)
Mark is 11yrs old. He lives with his mum and gran. Mark’s gran has dementia. This is an illness which affects his gran’s memory and communication. When Mark gets off the school bus, his mum leaves to work late shifts at the hospital. Mark is then fully responsible for his gran from 4pm, Monday to Friday, every week. Mark has been caring for his gran for the last year. He cooks the evening meal and reminds his gran about her medicines. It is not safe for her to be near the cooker on her own. He watches out for his gran so that she doesn’t fall when she gets out of her chair. He keeps her company and makes her a cup of tea and snack in the evening. At night he gives her more medicine and helps her get into bed.
How Mark Feels: ‘I love my gran but sometimes she talks to herself which is a bit scary. I worry about looking after her in the future as she seems to be getting worse. I don’t want to be a carer forever. Sometimes I get angry because I have to miss my afterschool football club. I used to go every week. All my friends go to it, but I need to look after my gran.
I want to be a footballer when I grow up.’
Lizzie is 15yrs old. She lives with her younger sister and their Mum. Lizzie’s mum has depression and anxiety. Her Dad has an addiction to alcohol. Four years ago, Lizzie’s Dad lost his job as a welder and he struggled to get more work. He started to spend more and more time down the pub during the day. In the evenings he would come home and shout at Lizzie’s Mum. He would get angry if his dinner was not ready and would ask her Mum for more money. Lizzie had never seen her Dad like that before. When they started to row, Lizzie would take her younger sister to the park. Her Mum started to suffer from panic attacks and would become really anxious when leaving the house. Lizzie’s Dad moved out of their home. He now lives forty minutes away by bus, with an old school friend. Since her Mum became unwell, Lizzie does all the food shopping and collects her Mum’s medication from the chemist. Lizzie picks up her younger sister from the local primary and walks her home every day. Lizzie does not see her Dad as often as she would like. He has been getting counselling for the past six months but he is not better yet.
How Lizzie feels: ‘I feel responsible for my Mum, Dad and sister. I try and remind myself of all the good times. I ring my Dad every few days to see how he is, and tell him what we’ve been doing. I am the one who is keeping us together, even though we are apart. My parents don’t keep in contact with each other anymore, but I don’t want to lose touch with my Dad. I think I have lost the part of me that was a kid. But I do know I am more mature than other people my age, which I think is a good thing.
I hope my parents can be happy and grow to love each other again.’
Crossroads Lewis supports Young Carers to be children and young people FIRST.