This year’s Young Carers Action Day has the theme of protecting young carers’ futures. We have been speaking to young carers and young adult carers to find out more about how their caring roles affect their lives, and what they believe the future should hold for them and other carers.
Sienna spoke to us about her experiences.
“My name is Sienna I am 15 years old, and I care for my mum who has Epilepsy and quite bad mental health.
“I have been caring for my mum since I was around two or three years old. I would always help her by reminding her about taking pills cooking tea, washing up, and would help when she was having a seizure, sometimes it would take longer for mum to come around and get back to her normal self, so would sometimes mean I would need to help her on the toilet and help to wash her as well.
“At the moment I’m in year 10 and I have started studying for my GCSEs. I am still going into school each day so I am still able to have my respite, but if I need to take a day off school to look after my mum I will do so.
“I have been quite lucky with not having as much time off school as some others have, but if mum’s needing me during the day and she’s still unwell I will make the choice of taking the day off school and support her. My school are fantastic and are also aware of my situation, so they are really understanding if I need to stay home and look after mum. I have always been very good with keeping up with schoolwork and catching up as well.
“With the first lockdown last year in 2020, if being completely honest, I struggled, and I felt so isolated. Mum was really ill and had such bad anxiety that she wasn’t able to open the front door to stand out on the porch for at least three months. Not being able to have my respite and have that support, I felt that I was on my own. But since this lockdown that was placed in 2021 I have been able to go to school and have respite.
“I have found having my counselling each week has helped me to share how I’m feeling, and being able to come to the different forums and being able to talk to everyone and see how they are has helped knowing that I’m not the only one in this situation. And also having support from Eloise [from Caring Together] has really made me feel reassured and has made me realised that I’m doing well.
“I have been having counselling for three or four years. I struggled with mental health for three or four years now and I found it hard talking about my feelings. Once I was able to talk to my counsellor I was able to share everything I was feeling. I know it is not ideal for everyone, but I have found it helpful. I believe it would be helpful for counselling to made available to all young carers and young adult carers.
“There has been quite a few young carers saying they have found it difficult and that they have struggled with their mental health. I know at the start of the pandemic I found it really difficult. At the start I found it alright but then it got too much. Feeling isolated not being able to see friends and family, and not being able to go to school.
“For the first couple of months of lockdown I decided I was going to stay at home with my mum as it would just be her at home alone. I found that quite challenging so on a Wednesday and Thursday I would have half a day at school. At the start of second lockdown I decided to go into school each day as mum was managing and doing alright. The school know I am a young carer and are understanding of my situation.
“My main message to other young carers is that you’re not alone!! And don’t feel afraid to ask for help because if you’re really needing it then you shouldn’t have to suffer. Also, with not being at school it’s probably having a massive impact on everyone. If you feel that you’re best being in school then ask and see if you can go back. I know that in some situations it’s different but at the same time you have to do what’s best for you and your situation.
“I had support worker at the start of lockdown who was saying it is time now I am in Year 10 to start thinking about my future and about now I am growing up how I need to make decisions for myself about my future.
“One thing I hope I will be able to achieve is to become a paramedic. I have had such a good relationship with some and I appreciate everything that they have done for me and mum when helping us. Looking after my mum has made me feel that I would love to help other people and keep them safe.”