Abi, our Young Carer Coordinator, talked to Alice, who is a young carer, aged 12, living at home with her parents. Alice helps out a lot at home to look after her dad, Mike, who has a physical disability, diabetes and arthritis. This means that he often spends long periods of time in bed and can’t get up to move around the house. Most days, Mike needs a lot of support to do simple things like getting in and out of bed and making food. Alice also offers support to her mum, Julie, who has depression. Alice spoke about wanting to be there for her mum and offer a listening ear in a hope of supporting her.
In any normal day, Alice helps to do general housework like washing clothes, cleaning, making food for her family, getting her dad drinks during the day and helping him in and out of bed. At the moment, she is helping out a lot more due to the Covid-19 lockdown because she is isolating at home to protect her dad. Alice told Abi how difficult it was at the moment, especially because she is still not attending school. She described how isolating it can be at home away from her friends and family. The Covid-19 lockdown last year really affected Alice, as it wasn’t long before then that she had lost a close family member as well as a beloved pet, dealt with her dad being in hospital twice and was experiencing frequent bullying at her school. She found comfort in joining her school choir and anti-bullying peer support group at her school, however these have been put on hold throughout the pandemic. In order to improve her mental wellbeing whilst in lockdown, Alice has been journaling, making sure she keeps in touch with her cousins virtually and is writing a really interesting story that we can’t wait to read.
When we asked about how her role as a young carer affects her day-to-day, Alice told us that sometimes she finds it hard to sleep and focus on daily activities due to things going on at home. She misses out on a lot at the moment, and has done throughout the pandemic, because she has not been able to return to school like other young people and she is completely confined to her house in protection of her dad. She told Abi this makes her feel really down and that she misses seeing her friends. Luckily, Alice has a trusted family member who really supports her and the staff at Alice’s school, particularly her tutor, are also really understanding about her role as a young carer and often help her when she is in need.
This year’s focus for Young Carer Action Day is ‘protecting young carers’ futures’, so we asked Alice what skills she has learnt from being a young carer. She told us this:
“I have learnt lots of great skills that will help me generally in life when I get older, like cooking, household tasks, first aid and how to react and stay calm during an emergency.”
Alice is really keen to put these skills to good use when she gets a job later in life. She wants to become either a paid carer, because she loves to help and support other people, or an actor and singer, due to a love for the arts and her previous involvement in productions. She has a passion for first aid and would love to attend a full first aid training course, which she thinks will always be useful in life. Additionally, Alice thinks that by being a young carer, it has made her a lot more resilient than her peers. She feels that she has learned how to deal with stress and difficult times at home, which in time will help her to develop a really positive mind-set and state of mental wellbeing.