***Young Carers Action Day 16th March***
For Kids who Care
It is Young Carers Action Day on 16th March.
1 in 12 children becomes a Young Carer at some point during childhood.
There are young, unsung heroes in every neighbourhood, such as the inspiring, kind, nine-year-old Ariella who has been helping to look after her seven-year-old brother Samson to cope with Autism, Hypermobility and Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
Ariella’s key message is: Young Carers still want to have fun like everyone else, even if we’re going through a hard time.
We interviewed Ariella and her mother, Tamara, to find out more about what it is like to be a Young Carer.
Here is what they said:
What is good about being a Young Carer?
Ariella: Knowing that I’m helping my brother and understanding things he struggles with. It’s also taught me to understand people with Autism more and opened my eyes to their world.
When I see someone being treated wrongly I speak out.
Mum: Ariella is older than her brother but only by 1.5 years. Despite this small age gap she understands his needs so well. No training in the world can give you the same level of deep understanding and empathy as a sibling who fiercely cares for and protects their younger brother and Ariella would do anything for her brother (when they’re not arguing of course!).
· What are the challenges for you?
Ariella : I too struggle with things and I need time in a quiet space. I also have found it hard playing with my brother as he struggles to share his toys. Some days when I’ve wanted to help him, he won’t accept the help instead gets angry and can sometimes hurt me when I get too close. But my brother and I have often said, though, how we wish we were in the same school. It can be hard seeing my friends in the same school as their brothers or sisters as it reminds me of what I miss, although I’m happy for them. I am struggling with going to school at the moment. When I’m there I get overwhelmed with the noise, then when I come home my brother can be overwhelmed and it all gets too much some days.
Mum: There have been a lot of ups and downs over the years, especially the last few. Covid-19 has certainly brought us all closer together, but with that limited our chances to break free and have time for ourselves. Ariella on many occasions, in fact, coped much better than we expected, allowing Samson to be himself when we were ‘locked’ (what felt like) indoors. This however has taken a toll on Ariella and we saw her burnt out last year as she had to return to school. Fortunately, she is a happy girl and has found other ways to refocus and find time for her, but much more needs to be done to help young carers like Ariella, who are now struggling with returning to ‘norm’, from the aftermath of Covid.
· What helps with those challenges?
Ariella: That’s a hard question. Talking to my parents and getting them to help my brother calm down and then explaining to me why he acts the way he does. I recognise through my brother’s needs, that I too have needs, but this also helps me help him better too. It’s hard when we have to change our plans last minute but some days no matter how hard it is, we still try and get out and have fun – often being silly and telling jokes or funny stories helps turn my brother’s meltdowns around. But also knowing we can change plans to meet our needs and taking days out to rest, is okay too!
Oh and our dog Luna, she’s still a pup but she is amazing and helps calm Samson too by giving him lots of kisses when he’s struggling and she also helps me when no one else can.
It’s been great meeting other young carers through Credu, just sitting and chatting with someone else about random gaming stuff.
Mum: Credu’s local young carer days provide great opportunities for both Ariella to meet other young carers and know she’s not alone and likewise for us as parents to meet other families experiencing similar situations. We also went away for Credu’s big weekend, an opportunity for Young Carers and their families to get together, have fun and experience camping in a safe way and knowing everyone there would understand if things didn’t go to plan or Samson was struggling.
Ariella knows she can always come to us, her parents, with any worries or concerns
and we are happy she does do this. We are proud of the fact she has recognised her own needs.
We know she will use her gifts to help others also in the future and may possibly become the sole carer for Samson as his only close sibling. We hope however to be around a long time still so she can live her life to the fullest but that when and if the time comes she will be equipped to know she can reach out for support from those around her, and we are showing her there is a whole community out there so she and others are not alone.
· What would you do for Young Carers if you were First Minister of Wales or the UK Prime Minister?
Ariella; Meet us and hear what we have to say.
Raise more awareness with others so everyone knows and understands each other’s lives better. No matter what’s happening in the world we still get the help and access to activities we need.
Provide more chances for fun and breaks for us families together.
Mum: Recognise the incredible resilience of these Young Carers and their disabled family members and celebrate their achievements. As my daughter said, also ensure campaigns are raised to recognise the needs of such resilient Young Carers so more is done financially and mentally to relieve the pressures within families when fighting for every ounce of needs for their children, as they shouldn’t be fighting, assessments should be offered and appropriate help given automatically. I would also ensure research is done to discover these amazing Young Carers and give them extra support when life is extra tough without the need to ask (eg post Covid-19, parents on low to no income due to not being able to work), Ariella has been out of school more than she has been in over the last 2 years, on top pf being a Young Carer and she is not getting the help she deserves, she deserves an education to meet her where she is whilst she is struggling. If I was PM I would have a big focus on the next generation, post covid (as was promised), to ensure they’re not missing out, no matter how hard their struggle is right now.
· What is your key message to other Young Carers and their parents?
Ariella: You are not alone and we can help each other.
· What is your key message to other adults and children who are not Young Carers?
Ariella: We still want to have fun like everyone else, even if were going through a hard time.
Mum: Our journey may be more windy, but we are still people who want the same things from life. We just need to go about them differently and sometimes alone is easier when were managing our child’s anxiety, but that doesn’t mean we want to be left alone, so do reach out and what you get back will be tenfold.
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.
With support, Young Carers can thrive, but without support, many do not achieve their potential in school and can become isolated.
If you want to find out more about local support for just call Credu (01597) 823800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and you can find out about all sorts of support as well as opportunities to meet other young carers and have fun. You can also get a Young Carers ID Card.
If you work with children and young people, you may also wish to find out how you can take action to identify and support the Young Carers that you come into contact with. Credu is the local Carers Trust support organisation in touch with over 3000 Adult and Young Carers in Powys. Credu is funded by Powys County Council, Powys Teaching Health Board, Tudor Trust, Esmee Fairbairn, the Waterloo Foundation as well as a range of local fundraisers and generous donors.
We can all do something.
- Pop up a Poster – there are lots you can print out on the Carers Trust website.
- Showcase your Story, Poem, Artwork, Blog or Video with Carers Trust by emailing email@example.com
- Think about who is missing out a lot, because they might be a Young Carer for someone at home?
- Reach out for support, if you could do with a bit of help.
- Show your support on social media using #YoungCarersActionDay, whether it be sharing something good or calling for action to fix a problem.