My name is Levi, I’m 17 and a young adult carer for my Dad…
My Dad used to be a heroin addict but got help and was placed on a methadone script. This is a chemical they give people to replace heroin as it’s really hard to quit. Dad has worked hard to get clean and I started caring for him more in 2015 when he tried to detox from methadone for the first time. He got really unwell and as it was just me, him and my sister at home I took on responsibilities such as household chores, looking out for my sister and supporting my Dad as best I could.
This is when we were referred to Gloucestershire Young Carers as my Dad wanted us to have somewhere that my sister and I could go for emotional support and help to do fun stuff to take our mind off his problems. I’d been a young carer for a long time but didn’t realise, it was just my life.
I was really shy so was initially nervous about getting involved with GYC but after I turned 16 Jess (Young Adult Carers worker) came to see me at home and we got on really well. We went out for a hot chocolate and talked for ages. I then did the YAC Caring Counts programme and this made a big difference. It was only a five week group but we learned loads of stuff about caring, looking after ourselves and I met other carers my age. I also met regularly with Jess 1 to 1 for a few months after that to get support with my anxiety. GYC helped me to understand Dad’s illness and that it wasn’t my fault. At the same time my Dad and little sister were getting a lot of support from GYC as well.
Fast forward to January 2017 and I feel like a different person. Things are still challenging and sadly, after a successful detox from methadone in 2016, my Dad was later diagnosed with cancer. He has had treatment and we’re hopeful that everything will be okay. I couldn’t be prouder of my Dad; he’s my hero.
The main difference is that as a family we now talk openly about how we feel and I am able to cope with things better. I’m stronger, my family is stronger and I have loads more confidence. I used to have crippling social anxiety where I couldn’t even face people but now I’ve found my voice and feel confident meeting new people. I can go into shops alone which I couldn’t do before and I even did National Citizenship Scheme (NCS) in the summer holidays which was amazing. My confidence and anxiety no longer holds me back.
I didn’t want to tell anyone that I cared for my Dad because I was scared about the outcome but I realise now that it’s nothing to be ashamed of and I am proud to be a young adult carer.
If you’re a young carer or young adult carer contact GYC – they can help.