Young Carer Stories and Videos
Steffany, age 9, is a Young Carer who lives in Derbyshire with her mum, Sarah. Sarah suffers from a brain tumour which means she has fits and severe migraines.
Sarah has good and bad days, often her condition is worse in the morning which means Steffany has to help her mum as well as getting herself up and ready for the day.
Because of her illness, Sarah struggles to get out of the house to take Steffany to school in the morning. When Sarah has a bad day Steffany doesn’t go and stays at home and looks after her mum instead. When she does make it to class, Steffany worries about whether her mum is okay at home without her there to help.
Steffany helps Sarah by cooking tea and making breakfast. She also does cleaning, shopping and washing. She also helps by sitting in the bathroom with her mum while she washes, as she’s worried she may have a fit when she’s in the bath.
Steffany has seen her mum have many fits. When they happen she has to fetch her mum’s medication and sit with her until the fit passes. When it’s been a really bad one she’s had to call for an ambulance.
Sarah describes Steffany as a ‘mini adult’ who takes on the role of a Young Carer most days. There’s just the two of them who live at their home, so most of the time Steffany is the only person around to help. Understandably, she worries about her mum’s condition and Sarah admits she would really struggle without the support Steffany gives her.
Steffany doesn’t find it easy to talk about her feelings but she is being supported by the Derbyshire Young Carers service. The service offers her the chance to meet other Young Carers and take part in activities. She can also talk to her Young Carers project worker if she needs to.
Lottie shared her story with the Carers Trust. If you prefer you can read her story on the Carers Trust website.
When did you start caring?
Jamie: ''I am a triplet with my sister Phoebe and Amelia. I was about four when I started caring for them."
Josie: ''I was nearly two when my brother and sisters were born. But I started caring at the age of four."
What sorts of things do you do to help?
Josie: ''I give my sisters water through the gastrostomies. I operate the minibus lift and clamp the wheelchairs in. When Mum and Dad are changing my sisters’ nappies we hold their hands. When we get them dressed to go out we put their jackets on back to front and blankets on their laps."
Jamie: ''We put fluffy socks on their feet to keep them warm. We have to programme a special pump which feeds them through their tubes. I entertain my sisters with toys if Mum and Dad are busy."
Is there anything you find hard about being a young carer?
Josie: ''It is very tiring and little sleep makes the next day very hard. When we go out we have to search for disabled toilets. It can be really boring having to find a place to change my sisters’ nappies and because there are two of them it takes ages. I don't honestly like helping change my sisters’ nappies because it stinks to high heaven! I do like playing with them but sometimes they hit me, scratch or pull my hair but they don't mean to."
Jamie: ''School is hard after no sleep but we still have to go. I don't always feel like helping. I would rather play. I can't get annoyed but I don't have much choice. Mum and Dad need our help. They can't do it all as they get stressed."
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Jamie: ''I want to be a chef – I like cooking for people and trying new recipes."
Josie: ''I want to be an animator and write stories as I like being creative and sharing ideas."
What help do you get from your local Young Carers service?
Jamie: ''We get a break and I like the food and new things we do. We went on a trip to feed the llamas and we got to go in their swimming pool. It was really fun."
Josie: ''I like going to young carers so we get a break, make new friends, try new things and have fun and act our age. I love the trips. Most of them are really exciting. The leaders at young carers are all fantastic."
Taken from the Carers Trust
This video features Young Carers of different ages talking about their daily lives. The video was made for Comic Relief
Experienced Young Carers give you their 10 top tips
Chloe is 7 years old and helps her single mum care for her brothers. One of the brothers is a foster brother who has a variety of conditions as does her older brother.
Life at home can be intense and Chloe has to provide lots of emotional support.
Chloe and her foster brother are in the same class at school, and although school are very good at ensuring they are in separate groups in class and he has one to one support, she gets little respite from him. She will go and check he is okay at break times.
The family are offered one weekend a month of respite for her foster brother, Chloe and her brother’s dad has recently got in touch so he takes her older brother out more frequently too.
Chloe’s caring is more emotional than physical support and mum ensures she does as little as she can but ultimately Chloe has to step in at times to help calm her brothers, play with them, and her life is very much centered around their needs.
Mum tries to ensure that Chloe is given respite and accesses local groups, but her brothers also attend two of groups.
THINGS WE DID:
DCA contacted Chloe’s school to arrange to see her in school for one to one support- focusing on her life as a young carer, feelings, anger.
Referred to Befriending service at Young Carers- respite and to meet other young carers to reduce her emotional isolation.
HOW IT HELPED:
The one-to-one sessions were successful in supporting Chloe with strategies for managing her emotions and understanding her role within the family.
Befriending supported Chloe and her mum to find and access activities in their local area, giving them some time together and making sure Chloe felt she had time with her mum.
Jody helps care for her sister Yvette who suffers from sensory issues and hypermobility . Jody’s sister is partially deaf and has limited speech and communicates with signing.
Mum is the main care giver for Yvette as dad works full time 6 days a week. Jody like’s to be involved and is a very caring child who likes to get involved and help with Yvette. This not because she is asked to do this but takes it upon herself to do things for her sister when she sees that that they need doing. Mum works part time as a midday supervisor which she feels is her respite and whilst she is there Yvette will be looked after by grandmother or Yvette’s godmother.
Jody helps Yvette when she is distressed and often Yvette looks for Jody when she is not there, Jody will play and help Yvette giving mum time to sort other things out. Jody is very sensitive and worries about Yvette. Jody has started to learn sign language so that she can help Yvette communicate what she needs
THINGS WE IDENTIFIED
- Jody to feel supported
- Jody to have more opportunities to socialise as Jody is very shy and quiet at times
- Jody helps a lot with her sister however a lot of the support is provided because Jody wants to help not because she has to however at times Yvette requests for Jody which means that Jody stops to ensure that Yvette doesn’t become too distressed.
- 1to1 sessions in school and looking at areas where school can provide further support
- To be involved in young carers activities and the chance to meet other young carers
HOW WE HAVE HELPED
Jody came along to our Zoo activity during the Easter break along with her parents and young sister. She was very reserved and quiet initially. Mum and dad used the opportunity to have a family day out too. Jody went around with young carers initially and went back to her family at lunch time for a short while.
Jody’s sister became poorly during the day out and the family had to return home early. I spoke to Jody who seemed to be enjoying the day so much that she wanted to stay with the group where we had a few things left to see and also wanted a visit to the gift shop. We were fortunate to have enough staff to provide Jody with transport home. Mum was happy for us to drop Jody off as it meant that Jody could carry on and enjoy the day. Yvette often gets ill so when they are out as a family in this instance they would all have to return home early. Mum was very appreciative that Jody could continue with the activity and enjoy the rest of her day.
Jody was so relaxed and having fun it was lovely to see that she felt comfortable in staying after her parents had left especially as she is only 9 years of age. I saw Jody grow in confidence and start to come out of her shell and show us the true Jody who was happy and very talkative. I feel that this activity also enabled myself to see Jody in a different light which enables me to support and encourage her more in our 1to1 session in school.
Max is an 11 year old young carer who looks after his mum who has complex health needs and relies on her son for support. Max’s mum Heather is a wheelchair user and her health can fluctuate from day to day. Her condition affects her mobility and her ability to carry out day to day tasks. Heather says she worries about Max and is concerned about how her health is impacting on his emotional wellbeing.
Max tells me he worries about his mum when he is at school and when he is at home. He is concerned something bad may happen. Max says he would like his mum to be able to access some support as he feels it would make things easier for her. He informed me he is not looking forward to starting secondary school as he won’t have any friends. As well as having low self esteem, Max is worried about everything that can go wrong. Heather is equally as worried about everything that can go wrong.
Max and I have spent time looking at mum’s support network. Together we were able to identify friends, family members and carers who support mum on a regular basis. This has helped to put Max’s mind at ease.
With regards to school, I sent an email highlighting that Max is a young carer and that he may at times feel anxious as he has someone at home he cares for. By doing this it will help the school to understand that things aren’t always as easy for young carers as the average child who is not in this position. It will also help them to be more sensitive to Max’s needs and to be able to offer appropriate support such as allowing him to make occasional calls home to make sure his mum is okay.
Sessions are going well with Max, I believe if I can get Max to a place where he is worrying less about his mum, it will help to make his experience at secondary school more positive and enjoyable. Max reports he is enjoying his sessions with the Young Carers service. Due to the government Lockdown which has been in place since March, Max has been able to see things differently as he has spent more time around his mum and he has seen carers supporting mum. This has helped him to understand that his mum is fine when he is at school.
Heather tells me Max is much happier since he has being supported by young carers and they are pleased with the level of support received.
You may have noticed that many of the Young Carers featured in these videos are getting support from their local carer support service. There are support services here in Derbyshire too, including the Derbyshire Young Carers Support Service. Find them here.