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 5. 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 9 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.

I’ve never felt as supported by Young Carers as I do now that Jess has created a Young Adult Carers group. I feel as if I’ve really been able to get involved with the organisation that has given so much to me, and I feel valued whenever I do something, like give a conference. Jess really made sure that we were listened to, and has made sure that I feel supported with individual matters, like my schooling, but also ensured that I got to meet other young adult carers and have fun with them!

My ‘story’ was made into a BBC Radio 4 programme called Coping without Kira which you can listen to here: . 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.