Our Young Carer Coordinator, Abi, chatted to Chelsea, a young carer aged 7, who lives at home with her mum and sister. Chelsea helps to look after and support her 9 year old sister Phoebe, who has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), features of both OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and ASC (autism spectrum condition). This means that she sometimes finds it harder to communicate with others, gets anxious or upset about social situations or events and is easily distracted or loses concentration. Phoebe can also show compulsive and obsessive behaviour, which can mean life at home for Chelsea and her mum is often quite emotional and scary.
A typical day in Chelsea’s life might include encouraging and teaching her sister, helping to calm her down during an emotional meltdown and advocating for her in social situations. Whilst at school and clubs, Chelsea takes on the responsibility to look out for her sister and often gives up spending time with her own friends during break times to make sure that her sister is not alone. At home, Chelsea also gives up a lot to help her sister and sometimes feels down and sad after trying to reassure or boost her sister, who often doesn’t believe in herself.
Chelsea occasionally misses out on fun activities that lots of young children her age would normally be able to enjoy, such as playing games at home, going outside on her bike and visiting the beach with her family. This is because Phoebe struggles a lot with aggression at home and often gets overwhelmed emotionally. This means she sometimes will refuse to leave home and she therefore needs a lot of support from her family.
Despite Chelsea being only 7 years old, she has big dreams for the future, telling us that she wants to either be a tennis player or a singer when she is older (we definitely think singing is on the cards after hearing her debut). Her favourite subjects at school are Art, History and PE and she loves crafting at home, with her most recent creation being some paper dragons to help celebrate Chinese New Year. To raise awareness of young carer’s futures for Young Carer Action Day 2021, we asked Chelsea and her mum how her caring role might help her to achieve her dreams in the future. Chelsea’s mum told us this:
“She doesn’t give up on her sister. She is really mature and independent for her age, has developed great empathy for others and is good at dealing with difficult situations.”
Chelsea’s mum believes that her children’s school struggles to understand Chelsea’s role as a young carer, who provides a lot of emotional for her sister. This is unfortunately a common feeling, which is why for Young Carer Action Day 2021 we want to raise awareness for young carers everywhere and to let them know that we hear them.