Blackpool Carers Centre on Young Carers:

Having worked with young carers and their families for a long time we get asked the same questions…

Who are these children?  Why are they ‘allowed’ to care?

Young carers are all around us, hidden in plain sight.  Some of our young carers are as young as 5 years old.  People’s reactions tend to be that of pity or ‘what a shame for them’ but what these children need is for us to show pride not pity, support not sadness.

As a parent, no one thinks that their child will end up providing care for them, certainly not during childhood, or that they may have to provide care to their sibling.  We all know that life has twists and turns, some more challenging than others.  For the families that we work with those challenges may be illness, disability, mental ill health or substance misuse.  These challenges can hit any of us at any time leaving choices limited and life upside down.  A car accident, a stroke, cancer, mental health diagnosis, a child born with complex needs or life limiting illness…and so life becomes very different.

The children that we work with have their fair share of responsibilities and worries but alongside that is their determination and resilience in equal measure.  For many of them, they are proud of what they do and they look after their parent, sibling, grandparent, out of love.  They are quiet warriors often holding together their family, but ask many of them and they don’t wish for their life to be all that different, only that the person they look after gets better and that people would be more understanding.

To the outside world a young carer may be that child who is always late for school, the one who often doesn’t complete their homework, who doesn’t play outside or go to their classmates birthday parties.  They are the ones who are tired, whose parents don’t make it to parent’s evening or to watch the school play.  The quiet child who doesn’t get too involved with friendships or stay late for the music club or netball practice.  Young carers often see life very differently from their peers…the things that their friends get worked up about – having the right trainers, listening to the right music, who’s going out with who – this is trivia when you are up all night with your poorly mum, working out if there is enough money to get the food shopping in or worrying about picking prescriptions up after school.

Many children don’t realise that they are a carer, it’s just what they do, it’s their ‘everyday’.  This is where the Resilient Move of ‘Know and Understand Yourself’ can help.  Together we start the conversation, recognise that they are doing something wonderful and that there is help for them to carry on, if that is what they want to do, but also if they don’t want to be a carer, that is ok too and there are options out there for them.

Our Young Carers and Young Adult Carers have been creating a series of Podcasts about their experiences of being Young Carers in Blackpool, they reflect on their talents and skills. These children are astounding, full of life, knowledge and strength, their skills are remarkable and their spirits fierce!

Listen here

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