Coping with the stress of being a young carer

Coping with the stress of being a young carer

Erin, 15, is an only child living with her parents in rural Wiltshire. She is a Young Carer and was referred to Spurgeons by her school, when her parents mentioned they were worried that she was struggling with the stress of looking after her mum.

Erin is a carer to her mum, who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS). Her mum’s condition is getting progressively worse. Her Mum is also increasingly forgetful, sometimes forgetting what she watched on TV last night before or her train of thought. This makes Erin get annoyed or angry with her. “But then I feel so guilty; I cry and then Mum cries too, which is not what I want,” explains Erin.

Erin worried about her mum when she’s not there sometimes: “I find myself worrying about her when I am not there in case she might fall.”

Initially Erin was very reluctant to attend any of our sessions, but knowing she had an interest in art, we suggested the Big Stone and Rain Project in Salisbury, which gives young carers the opportunity to work with professional artists at the Young Gallery. Erin agreed to try it, to give her some ‘me time’. To her delight, she found the sessions interesting and helpful for her GCSE Art studies.

Following the art sessions, we got Erin involved in our ‘Nosh and Natter’ sessions, where our young carers cook together and chat at the same time. Erin thoroughly enjoyed these sessions and really came into her own.

Erin’s Mum is continuing to deteriorate and dad is working full-time. “I know Mum is getting progressively worse and is struggling to deal with the condition, which does make Dad and me sad,” says Erin.

Erin says, “Spurgeons helped me to meet new people who have a family member who is unwell. It’s possible to talk to the staff about any worries and concerns, they always take time to listen offering advice where to get additional support from if required.

I found it hard to talk about my home life initially, but they supported me in school, talked to my teachers, explained what my role was within the family and ensured that support was available.

I would recommend Spurgeons Young Carers to all young people who are struggling with their role caring for a family member, even if they only get to talk to someone who cares and understands their role.

Spurgeons’ support worker Sharon Kirwan says, “I am so proud of Erin, she has used her own experiences to help others, through some challenging times!”