Carers Week 2021: The sacrifices I’ve had to make as a young carer

Matthew is a member of the Family Justice Young People’s Board.

I started caring for my mum at the age of 10 years old when my mum was diagnosed with several illnesses, despite my own disabilities. After her diagnosis it was hard to see someone who had always been able to handle herself, start to struggle with simple day to day tasks such as the washing and dressing herself.

Although I was called a “young carer” by the Young Carer Organisation with Barnardos, they were not able to offer any support because I was already receiving a service for children and young people with disabilities. My life became harder once my older brother left home in 2013 as I became the main person who would have to start looking after my mum.

My mum was given seven hours a week of paid carers by Lancashire County Council and the contract was then outsourced to a personal assistant organisation who would show up in the morning and the evening for about thirty minutes to help my mum to make food and other tasks. Unfortunately, they would only stay for about fifteen minutes due to them always arriving late – something they put this down to travelling time and various other reasons.

Me and my mum then started to cook food in advance which could be pre-heated in the microwave depending on the days that her illnesses did not affect her too badly. I was a young carer but there was never any recognition or financial aid for the caring role that I had to take on. Even with the seven hours a week of paid carers it would leave 161 hours a week where I would have to care for my mum, and also come to terms with my own disabilities and still have to attend my school.

This left no time for myself for going out with friends and doing other things that you do during your early teen years. Since then, the paid carer hours have gone up to fourteen hours a week, but I’m still left trying to look after my mum and still without any financial aid. One of my greatest fears is that when I leave to go to university my mum will then start to struggle once again with simple day to day tasks.

My caring roles are as followed:

  • Making tea
  • opening tins and bottles
  • reading the mail
  • helping to make food (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • make sure she’s had her medication due to her sometimes forgetting to take them.

I have also had to help my mum pay the bills and set them up so they’re paid automatically. Now that I’m able to drive this has allowed us to go out more. Before this if my mum had a bad day, she wouldn’t be able to drive. So now I’m the main person who drives myself and my mum around.

I feel that there needs to be more support for children and young people who must sacrifice their teenage years to look after someone who they care for. It’s also upsetting for the person who you have to care for – as they’re not able to do the things they once were able to do.

Thank you for reading.

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