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“Music helped me deal with my feelings”

11 June 2013

Young Carers in Focus ambassador Abby Irwin, 19, shares her story for Carers Week 2013 and reveals how caring for her mother inspired her to embark on a musical career and further training.

The Children’s Society’s Young Carers in Focus initiative is one of several projects funded through Big Lottery Fund’s Youth in Focus programme, which aims to help vulnerable young people through key transitions in their lives.

Abby Irwin

Abby Irwin’s caring experiences haved shaped her musical career

I began writing songs when I was 11 years old. Writing songs gave me a way to say the things I couldn’t say in my everyday life. I found that writing it down in a song helped me process those things.

I’ve always said that listening to my songs is a bit like reading my diary and I think that’s still the case. I wrote Shy to Be Human about a part of my life that I have both struggled with and have been blessed by. I hoped that it would inspire other people like me.

I have grown up caring for my mum who has a wide range of conditions that make her unable to do normal everyday things, like making tea, going out to the shops and even walking up stairs.

It definitely hasn’t been easy for any of us as a family because we missed out on things that our friends had, just because our mum was ill. This meant that I had a lot of anger and sadness towards my situation, but music helped me to deal with those feelings.

My song ‘Shy To Be Human’ is about being a young carer and the emotions that come with this role. I was so happy when the organisers of the national Young Carers festival asked to make my song the official song for the festival.

I first got involved with Young Carers in Focus when I was given the opportunity to perform at the festival. Through this I was then asked to be an ambassador for the project, which was launched at the festival last year.

Young Carers in Focus, funded by Big Lottery Fund and led by The Children’s Society working with four other charities, is such a great project because it enables us, as young carers, to build a community together, raise awareness and to really make a difference in the lives of other young people like us.

It’s so important to have support when you have to grow up in such difficult circumstances. I didn’t even realise I was a young carer until I was 15, so I know just how valuable it would have been to have had this kind of support when I was young and trying to figure everything out on my own and really struggling.

I’m so passionate about seeing young carers break free of the burdens they carry and really go for their dreams. Although caring for my mum has had its obvious down sides, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t follow my dreams too. My parents are both so supportive of me and through them, and other support workers, I was given the confidence to go after the massive dreams I have.

I am currently at university studying commercial music. Things are still not easy, because moving away from home has its own worries. I’m not there to make sure mum and everyone are okay, but I am so unbelievably grateful to be here. This first year of university has honestly been the best year of my life. I feel like I’m finally finding out who I am and who I want to be.

Without the help of people like those I’ve worked with at The Children’s Society, I wouldn’t have felt able to leave home and pursue a dream of mine that I hope to make a future career.

Are you a young carer or do you know someone who carers for a family member or friend? Join the Carers Week conversation on Twitter using #CarersWeek or leave your comments below.

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