Carers Week 2018

Carers Week 2018

I am writing this in the dying hours of Carers Week – 11th to 17th of June 2018 – in order to raise some awareness of those carers that may go un-noticed and un-celebrated throughout the year. So, who are carers and why as a school do we care about them? Carers are people who provide unpaid care for a friend or family member with an illness, disability, mental health problem or an addiction who cannot cope without support. As a school, it is important that we recognise who our young carers and young adult carers are.

Caring is a more difficult task than it seems. Many carers live with the person that they care for especially in the YC (Young Carers) and YAC (Young Adult Carers) community, and as soon as someone you’re living with is diagnosed with a disability, your life changes. At home you are constantly aware of it; it gives you less time to do the things that so many take for granted and home can sometimes turn into a stressful environment. Even when you go out you have to make sure everything is safe for those you are caring for while you are not there.

I am a carer for two people and that presents many problems. I’ve been a carer since I was 7 years old, although I wasn’t identified as such until I was 13. That is due to there being misconceptions. Some people assume that it is the GP who is responsible for identifying who a carer should be, but the truth is that they have a 10-15 minute appointment to find out about, and solve, the problem that you came with. Realistically do they have time to ask? No. From the perspective of a carer my GP is quite supportive, and over the last few months especially, they have been very helpful. I didn’t know about YC and YAC and I didn’t really realise that this was what I was. It is just a way of life to us.

So, why tell the school? 1 in 20 YC miss days off school due to their caring role; homework can be difficult to do in time and exhaustion is pretty common. I don’t get 8 hours of sleep a night and when you are trying to manage on a 5 hour night, it helps if somebody at school knows what you are going through. Your teachers see you 5 days a week and can help us. When things go wrong as a carer – they go really wrong. Having some sort of understanding of this helps. Teachers also have access to other support networks such as Kernow Young Carers and Kernow Young Adult Carers, which are useful as a support network to all young carers.

How can you help a young carer you know? Ask how they are and just listen to what they have to say. You probably won’t be able to help them but just listening is incredibly helpful. Encourage them to tell the school they are a carer. It is something to be proud of!

Caring is rewarding but tough. The support is out there. You may not need the support of the school or Kernow YC yet but have it there ready for when you do. When I was 13 I certainly didn’t, however in the last nine months, I certainly have. Talking is the key. Be open minded about it; I hated the word ‘carer’, but actually when you are in hospitals or dealing with authorities, it pays to speak their language, as people are more likely to listen.

Adam W.

Thank you to Adam for writing this. If you are a Young Carer or a Young Adult Carer, or you know someone who is, and you would like to talk to someone, or find out about support networks available – please let us know. You can talk to your tutor, your Head of House, or any member of staff that you trust.

We are here for you at TCC.