Fixing the issues faced by young carers
Carers Week is a UK-wide annual awareness campaign. Its aim is to improve the lives of carers and the people they care for. In this guest blog Hatty Berry, 16, talks about life growing up while caring for her mum, Shona. She has been working with Fixers, a charity funded by the Big Lottery Fund, which helps young people aged 16 to 25 fix the issues that fire them up.
With the help of Fixers, Hatty made the film embedded in this blog to show teachers, social workers and other professionals why some children may misbehave because of the pressures they are under at home. She has also been named as Carer of the Year at the Child of Sussex Awards in recognition of her hard work.
I’ve been caring for my mum since I was 11 years old. She has a condition called Fibromyalgia, which leaves her with severe muscle pain over her entire body. I help her get ready for the day, getting her out of bed, making sure she takes her medication, helping her bath, doing her hair and get her moving around the house before I go to school.
Most evenings I have to cook dinner for us as well. She can be very forgetful because of all the medication that she takes, so I spend a lot of time helping her find where she has put her purse, phone, shoes, or cup of tea!
As it is only me and my mum in the house, sometimes it does get quite difficult and I do feel quite alone; there’s no one else to help me. That is a very big stress on my life and on occasion it has made me behave badly at school.
I think a lot of people, especially teachers and other students at my school, have been quick to judge me and have assumed, when I am late or tired in lessons, that I simply couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed on time or that I care so little about my future that I stay up late.
I want people to know that isn’t the case – there is a reason behind my behaviour and the same could be true for all young carers.
I want people to think twice and not judge children or teenagers, especially those who might be caring for a sick family member, until they’ve actually sat down and spoken to them and asked if there are any problems or if there is anything they can do to help.
To illustrate my point, I have made a film with Fixers that I hope will lead to greater understanding. The film follows the story of three teenagers who misbehave in school. It shows their school day and then gives a glimpse of what is going behind the scenes in their personal lives to make them behave anti-socially.
I hope that through the film, people will think twice before they judge a young person, and actually consider the reasons behind someone’s behaviour. They could be carrying a responsibility beyond their years.
What do you think of Hatty’s blog and the film which Fixers helped her create? Join the Carers Week conversation on Twitter using #carersweek or leave your comments below.