Eileen’s story- Supporting young carers in Ayrshire
“For many of them, they just think that it’s a normal part of family life.”
If we can raise the profile then hopefully more young people will come forward and say, “I think I might fall into that category and this is how I feel, and can you help me?”
One parent actually said to me “No, he’s not a young carer.” I said, “But he does this. He helps look after you. He helps you get dressed.” She didn’t think of it like that – some people are reluctant to have that stigma of giving it that label of being a young carer. Lots of people have a caring responsibility, but they don’t know. I have to tell people, just because they’re not dressed in a uniform doesn’t mean they aren’t a carer.
They think that “that’s what happens in our family. That’s how we do it.” And they don’t realize that it’s a huge responsibility in some cases, especially for some people who are so young. For many of them, they just think that it’s a normal part of family life. “I’ve got chores to do, I’ve got tasks to do.” But actually, not every child has those tasks and chores to do.
I think mental health is a tricky area too, because a young person might open up about how mum or dad is presenting and behaving, but they don’t want them to know they have spoken about it. So it can be difficult to support them whilst being discreet about their situation.
I want staff to be aware too, that the students in front of them are coming in with so many other things, thoughts, worries in their head, and homework may be not their priority. And if we can support them in any way, then that’s what we will do.
We have been able to show them the financial supports and respite packages available to them. They’ve been to the opera. They’ve had their Ayr United football tickets. They’ve been caving at a local outdoor leisure centre. Exactly the kind of things that they wouldn’t necessarily do because they don’t have time, because they get in from school and their caring role starts automatically.
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