‘I am so grateful to my daughter. She is amazing’
Young Carers Awareness Day is about children and young people all over the UK and here in North Wales who look after someone, usually a parent or a sibling, who is ill or disabled.
Twelve-year-old Alice Beamish of Colwyn Bay is a sibling Carer for her brother Eddie, who has autism. We chatted to Alice and her Mum, Lou, about what it is like to be a Young Carer.
What is good about being a Young Carer?
Alice: ‘I have a special connection with my brother. He is different. I like that about him. I get him, he is good to be around and so much fun’
Mum: ‘Alice helps so much with supporting her brother because she has a special connection with him and can calm him when me and her dad can’t. She is so mature. It has given her a greater understanding that people can be different and that we cannot always see what challenges families face. It makes her a kinder and more understanding person.’
What are the challenges for you?
Alice: ‘When my brother gets upset and distressed it is really upsetting for me to see him like that. Plans have to get cancelled a lot too. Sometimes we might want to go out and do something but my brother gets upset and we can’t go anywhere.’
Mum: ‘Family life is very disrupted so you cannot do normal things as a family and however hard we try, we can sometimes end up giving less attention to Alice. I can’t imagine what it is like to be in her shoes and I worry about the impact that caring has on her. I want her to know that we are SO thankful to her.’
What helps with those challenges?
Alice: ‘My dog Jet really helps! Also, I have these games that I can play with my brother to help calm him. Young Carers Group is a really good place for me to go. You forget about your worries, your with people who understand what it is like AND it is fun!’
Mum: ‘The local Young Carers Group is somewhere special JUST for her, It makes a difference to get along aside other kids who also have stuff going on. It gives her more people around her that support and encourage her and LISTEN to her. It takes a village to raise a child doesn’t it. My husband is a minister and the other people at the church are like an extended family that are really supportive too.’
What would you do for Young Carers if you were Prime Minister
Alice: ‘More groups for Young Carers – they meet fortnightly – it would be great if they were weekly! They REALLY help.’
Mum: ‘Recognition for these amazing young people and more funding for more support for more Young Carers – more groups, more staff.’
What is your key message to other Young Carers and their parents?
Alice: ‘Even if things are really hard there is always someone to talk to who will really listen to you – you don’t have to be by yourself’.
Mum would say to other parents of Young Carers: ‘Accept that there are going to be highs and lows for your Young Carer and know you are not alone’
Every Young Carer and every family is different. Young carers do many things that other young people might not usually do, such as:
• Talking to someone who is distressed and helping them communicate.
• Helping get someone out of bed and dressed.
• Collecting prescriptions and giving out medicines.
• Managing the family budget.
• Cooking, housework and shopping.
One in twelve children becomes a Young Carer at some point during childhood (BBC (2010). There are young, unsung heroes in every neighbourhood. With support Young Carers can thrive, but without support so many do not achieve their potential in school and can become isolated.
If you want to find out more about local support for Young Carers just call (01597) 823800 and you can find out about local outreach support, local groups and support networks. If you are a teacher or youth worker, you may also wish to find out how you can identify and support the Young Carers that you come into contact with. WCD (pronounced Wicked) Young Carers is the local support project in touch with over 1200 Young Carers, hosted by Credu Carers and funded by Wrexham, Conwy and Denbighshire Councils, Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, Children in Need and The Steve Morgan Foundation.