Celebrating Real Superheroes: Kira’s Story
I care for my Mum and I’m 19 years old. As you may have guessed from the title…I’m Kira!
I’m not sure when I became a young carer but I was really, really young. My first memories of my Mum’s illness are from around the age of five. My Mum used to take me in my pushchair to a café in town for tea and cake. We used to get the bus or walk but then everything changed. My Mum stopped leaving the house, she often stayed in bed all day and as a child I spent a lot of time in front of the telly from then on.
So my Mum had a ‘mental breakdown’. Social services came to our house and everybody was worried about us kids. I sometimes feel they should have worried more about my Mum than us… but I’m so glad they referred me to Gloucestershire Young Carers – this was nine years ago! Since then my Mum has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Rheumatoid Arthritis. There have been ups and downs, arguments over her manic highs, hospital admissions, exams and attempts at a normal teenage life.
In September 2016 I moved away and started my degree at Cambridge University which was scary but I can now honestly say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s the freedom which is amazing; I’ve never had that before. Life feels very different and I can do what I want, I can see new friends, binge-watch Netflix series and work without distraction.
It’s hard to put into words what Gloucestershire Young Carers have done for me. I couldn’t really talk to anyone else about my family, even therapists as they didn’t understand. Meeting other young carers made me realise I’m not alone. The staff at Gloucestershire Young Carers really understand what young carers are going through – some of them have been carers themselves – and they never judge.
My ‘story’ was made into a BBC Radio 4 programme called Coping Without Kira which you can listen to here: BBC Coping Without Kira . Since it went out people keep telling me how brave I am or ‘oh my god I can’t believe you deal with that’.
My caring role has never felt unusual as for me it’s just my life.
Celebrating Real Superheroes: Luke’s Story
My name is Luke and I am a young carer for my Mum. I am 11 years old and in Year 6. I help my Mum cope with her depression and when she had a back operation. I worry about my Mum and I don’t like to be away from her.
The hardest things about being a young carer are watching my Mum cry and suffer from pain but the best thing is that I get to spend the most time with her. I love my Mum.
Gloucestershire Young Carers help me but they also help my Mum. Kate (GYC locality worker) talks to my Mum a lot and she comes to our house sometimes to make sure everything’s okay. Kate got me to go to a young carer’s group which is on Mondays. It’s hard to leave my Mum but the adults there let me call her when I want to and look after me.
I love drawing and at Christmas there was a GYC Christmas card competition which I won! This made me happy and I was given a pack of Christmas cards with my design on them. At group I get to do as much colouring as I want. The group is what helps me the most as I get to talk about things but it’s also really fun.
Young Carer Quiz:
How about finding out more about young carers – you may be surprised.
Celebrating Real Superheroes: Cat’s Story
I’ve been a young carer since the age of eight, when my parents divorced and I moved with my mother and two younger siblings to Gloucestershire. My younger brother, Ethan, has learning and behavioural difficulties as well as global developmental delay. This means he requires constant supervision and help with daily activities, especially cooking and being out in the community as he has very little danger-awareness.
It started out with me keeping my brother occupied after school and as I grew older progressed to me taking him out on trips to the library or on walks. By the time I was 16 I was taking care of him when my mother popped out to take my younger sister to various weekly activities such as her swimming lessons. He sometimes grows restless when waiting around and this can make him run off or act aggressive so it’s safer for me to look after him at home.
I’m 20 years old now and away at University so now only able to help care for him when I’m home during the holidays. I’ve also started taking on other roles when I’m back such as cooking in the evenings. This frees up more time for my mother to spend with Ethan reading with him and keeping him occupied.
One of the hardest things about being a young carer is that it can be very time consuming and stressful. When Ethan has had a bad day he can get very aggressive and in the past when I got back from school it was the last thing that I wanted to deal with. He can sometimes be calmed down with a walk through the local area or some attention, however as our mother is often fairly busy with household tasks it would often fall on me to either try to calm him down (or ignore him as best I could!).
Being part of Gloucestershire Young Carers really helps deal with some of the problems that come with being a young carer and offers support. They offer activities and workshops on topics such as mental health and healthy living which are issues that are important for young carers and I have found this invaluable. I’ve also benefited from the exciting days out they offer during the holidays such as watersports and a trip to London for the day. These really help me to relax and take a break from my caring role, especially when I was in my caring role all day all week. I’ve also had a chance to make new friends during my time at GYC and to take a part in shaping their new Young Adult Carer service by being on a steering group for this project. This has really helped build my confidence and communication skills.
Celebrating Real Superheroes: Jake’s Story
My name is Jake. I’m 10 years old and I’m a young carer for my brother Dan. Dan has autism which means I need to keep an eye on him when my Mum is busy. I like playing games with Dan but he gets angry and smashes the games sometimes.
Two years ago a lady from Gloucestershire Young Carers came to see me and my Mum at home. She asked me how I was feeling and what I liked to do. I told her I was angry as my brother is mean to me sometimes. It’s because of his autism so he can’t help it but it still makes me sad and I was crying twice a day. I didn’t sleep a lot and was always tired. She also talked to my Mum but I’m not sure what about.
After that my Mum said I needed a break and that I’d get to go to a young carers’ group. I was nervous before I started but I love it. We do lots of fun things like play dodge ball, make pizzas and chat. One time we went to the park and Hana (group worker) showed us how to make giant bubbles! That was cool. I also started seeing a counsellor at school and it was nice to talk to them.
My favourite thing about being a young carer is getting to go on trips with GYC. We went sailing in the summer and that was so much fun. I still go to young carers’ group and what’s helped me most is that I have met some people in the same position as me.
Tutor Time Presentation for Schools
Here’s a great resource for schools. We’re encouraging teaching staff to raise awareness of young carers and the issues they face daily. Identifying and supporting young carers in schools is vital. We can work with schools to support this process. #ThinkYoungCarer
Read about one of the young carers we work with in this article featured in the The Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo:
What’s Your Superpower?
Join us on Thursday in raising awareness of the ‘real superheroes’ in our community: Young Carers. Thursday January 26th marks Young Carers Awareness Day. We’re celebrating the day by inviting our supporters across the county to share their superpower.
Download and print the image below or make your own poster and tell us what your superpower would be then share it on FB or Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #realsuperheroes #YoungCarersAwarenessDay and @glosyoungcarers
Why not nominate a friend to do the same and encourage donations via our website? glosyoungcarers.co.uk
Thank you for supporting the hidden superheroes.
Gloucestershire Author is ‘Lookin’ Out’ for Young Carers
Gloucestershire writer Janey H Bailey will publish her first book this week to coincide with Young Carers Awareness Day (January 26) – appropriate because the heroine of her story is a young carer.
‘Lookin Out for Leroy’ is the story of a young boy with autism and a unique talent for mimicking the sounds around him but his story is told through the eyes of his 14-year-old sister Tia. This young adult novel tells of Tia’s frustrations linked to the limits her brother’s challenging behaviour places on the life of her family but also the joy that she gleans from having such a special brother. It is a story that will resonate with many families in the county as they journey through the experiences of the delightful duo.
The life of a young carer and all that it entails is an ambitious subject for Janey, a former hospital-based renal consultant, but one she has thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing.
She says: “I have never been a young carer but I saw the impact of caring for someone on the many family members who came into our department with their loved ones. They would tell me, in a matter of fact way, how they had not slept for days on end. I could see the worry written across their faces.”
Janey was inspired to write the novel after seeing a TV advert for a programme about a child with autism which threw light on the child’s extreme sensitivity to every day sounds around them.
She said: “I have also always had an interest in particularly gifted children and those with savant tendencies. I worked with such children for a time at the Sara Rowe Centre for children with special needs in Hong Kong where I grew up. I then began to explore their link with music and came up with Leroy’s character – a child who could imitate any sound and who then began to replicate them using pots and pans and eventually steel drums. That naturally led me into the world of a Caribbean family. I have always loved the Caribbean culture, dialogue and music and I have tried to portray this in an accurate and sensitive way.”
Janey realised quickly that the story would have to be from Tia’s point of view so created an appealing teenage girl, protective and loving to her brother but who, in turn attracts love from those around her with a surprising outcome.
In researching support for Tia in the story, Janey came across the concept of young carers’ respite centres and support groups. “I also became aware of Gloucestershire Young Carers – a local charity that supports young carers like Tia and so I decided to donate a percentage of the book’s sales to the work that the charity does. It seemed appropriate.”
Janey’s book will be available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon’s self-publishing platform KDP.
Download Janey’s book here: Lookin Out for Leroy
Young Carers Awareness Day Launch
January 26th marks Young Carers Awareness Day: a day of recognition for young people in caring roles established by Carers Trust and supported in the county by Gloucestershire Young Carers.
The charity here in Gloucestershire will be encouraging people to support the ‘real superheroes’ in our communities, the thousands of young people that are exceptional in the essential support they give their families every day.
Gloucestershire Young Carers will launch a social media campaign #realsuperheroes #YCAD #YoungCarerAwarenessDay to reflect this message.
Schools in particular are getting involved in the day with assemblies and activities to help people understand the role of young carers and the challenges they face on a daily basis.
Gloucester Academy will be receiving recognition for the support they offer to more than 40 young carers in their school to make sure they have the same opportunities as other children within the school community. The school will receive their Young Carers Accreditation award, endorsed by Gloucestershire Healthy Living & Learning.
Mandy Pugh, Young Carers Lead at Gloucester Academy, says: ‘Life is often complex and children, young people and adults find themselves dealing with difficult situations, changes in circumstances and also health difficulties etc. For a young person this can result in them taking increased responsibility for caring and supporting adults in the family home.
Our role in school is to work together with Young Carers Gloucestershire and to identify when support is needed and to remove barriers to learning.
Support takes many forms, a listening ear, a group session, simply meeting with other young people who are in a similar situation. It could also be in the form of support around homework responsibilities and generally around the anxiety that we carry when we are concerned about a family member. We have a school counsellor who is able to provide psycho-therapy, and our school nurse drop-in where youngsters can receive specific support for this.
Understanding the needs of our young people is the key. It’s always helpful if parents and carers advise us of difficulties, but at Secondary School age it’s even more important that each young person is able to identify an adult in school who they can speak to. Our Young Carers Co-ordinator, Mrs Davies is our dedicated member of staff who supports in making referrals, hosting group activities and, more recently, setting up a mentoring buddy arrangement where older Young Carers are partnered to support younger Young Carers. We are always looking out for opportunities and activities to improve our provision, and we will continue to do so.’
Other awareness raising events will be taking place across the county – including events at Gloucester College and The Crypt School.
Ele Semadeni, Operations Manager for Gloucestershire Young Carers says: “Our work day to day involves helping to make people aware of the impact that caring can have on young people. We work in partnership not only with schools but also GPs, social care and other agencies, supporting the family as a whole. Young Carers Awareness Day provides an opportunity to really throw the spotlight on young carers’ issues and we are inviting supporters to think ‘young carer’ throughout the day.”
Anyone can help to support the Gloucestershire’s young carers by joining the #realsuperheroes social media campaign or by donating through Gloucestershire Young Carers’ website or via Text to Donate: GLYC01 plus your donation amount 2, 5 or 10 to 70070.