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Carers Week: Spotlight on young carers

16 June 2011

Cooking, cleaning and food shopping are all typical jobs for busy parents. But for tens of thousands of children and young people across the UK, these chores are just part of their daily responsibility of looking after a parent or relative with a physical or mental illness. In the first of our features on young carers today, Kelly & Starr talk about the help they receive from a Lottery funded Eastern Ravens Trust project in Stockton on Tees

Starr, 15, from Stockton-on-Tees, is the sole carer for her mum, who has chronic depression.

“There will be good days when she’s happy, but then there will be bad days when she’ll stay in bed all day and sit there and cry, so I provide her with emotional support.

“All my friends go out on a weekend on a night, but I’m never, ever out because I have to sit at home with my mum and make sure she’s alright – so I don’t get that much of a social life compared to other people my age.

“On a good day she’ll be alright – I’ll come home from school and my tea will be done.  But on a bad day nothing will be done – I’ll come home from school and all the pots will need washing and [the house] will need cleaning. I’ll have to make my own tea and my mum’s as well.

“I’ll text my mum during the day to see if she’s alright – I’ve had my phone taken off me loads at school before because I’ve been sat there in lessons texting my mum to make sure she’s alright. She’ll text back if she’s ok, but if I don’t get a text back I’ll know it’s a bad day.”

Starr attends a fortnightly youth club and weekly steering group for young carers funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run by the Eastern Ravens Trust – a local children’s charity based in Stockton-on-Tees.

“You learn to get used to [being a young carer] but there are some times when you get proper sick of it all and think – what’s the point in this?” Starr says. “Then you come to Eastern Ravens and you’ll talk to the staff and they’ll give you advice and sit and listen. It’s good to get you through it

“Eastern Ravens give my mum extra support, like coming round the house if my mum’s feeling down and I don’t know what to do. They helped my mum get a job; they’ve given her confidence, which I’ve never really seen in her before.”

Kelly and Starr

Kelly and Starr

Kelly, 15, from Stockton-on-Tees helps her mother, who has alcohol misuse problems, to look after her brother, 14, with learning difficulties.

“It’s hard when I get coursework I can’t always do it because I have to look after him. I try my best not to [miss school] but if I really have to, I do.

“I don’t have free time like everyone else and I have a lot of responsibilities in my life. With other people, they get their mums to do everything for them and I can’t. I do most of the stuff around the house. Mum tries to help but if she’s ill I just tell her to rest and I’ll do it.

“I come to Eastern Ravens once a fortnight on a Thursday just to chill and get my head around things, just give me some free time. You meet other people with problems – it’s good to talk to them because they know how you feel. My really close friends know what’s going on, and a few teachers know but I don’t think they really know anything about young carers.

“If I didn’t have Eastern Ravens, I’d have no-one to talk to. It would all just be bottled up inside – I’d be working every single day, dead hard, with loads of stress.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. 23 June 2011 10:59 am

    Two inspirational young girls and great to see the support they are getting from the Eastern Ravens.

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