Spurgeons talked to the young carers we work with in the West Midlands about their lives as teenagers, carers and regulars at our young carers groups. Though modest and generally unassuming about their role, their identity as young carers is strong.
Young carers are a special group of young people. They are children and teenagers who have had to grow up very quickly to care for those they love. There are said to be at least a quarter of a million young carers in the UK – young people caring for or supporting a family member with an illness or disability.
Spurgeons works with around 800 young carers in the West Midlands. We wanted to share some of their insights with you, presented in the young carers own words…
These young people are caring for a family member with an illness or disability. They have to grow up too fast – the need to balance their caring responsibilities with school leaves them little time to have fun with their friends.
What does being a young carer mean to you?
”It’s about more than having to look after yourself; it’s being responsible for other people and having to kind of act bigger than you are”
”It’s very different for different young people and I make sure I get that point across when I’m talking to people about being a young carer”
”I make my sister happy, yeah, because she has nobody, so I kinda make her laugh and everything and she understands, maybe; like noises, too, because she makes funny noises when she wants to communicate.”
How has Spurgeons helped you?
”It’s different to what you think it’s going to be. I thought you’d be, like, sitting there talking about your problems instead of just having fun and relaxing”
”Here (at Spurgeons) I can talk to friends, I can talk to adults, I can talk to the leaders, I can talk to volunteers… so many people, such wide network, it’s really helped me”
”Spurgeons has helped me a lot, firstly, coming to terms with being a young carer but then also with strategies and stuff to help me cope if I’m getting stressed out from it”
”Spurgeons has helped me with letting out my stress in a positive way; this has given me the space not to project any stress on to my little brother, which would obviously be really negative”
”I now have a better mindset, like I used to get into challenges and problems and just say ‘no, can’t do it’ and shut down. Since I’ve come to Spurgeons I’ve thought, right, actually I can do this… or this… or this. I have a mental list of strategies that help me or my family in situations that are stressful or difficult”
”Just meeting these people and knowing someone’s there that I can talk to has made me much happier”
”They just understand things”
How has meeting other young carers helped you?
”It’s like a little break… the friends I have at Spurgeons relate to what I’ve been through and what I do. It’s warming. It’s welcoming.”
”I met one of my best friends through Spurgeons… we get to talk about everything and she goes to my theatre group… I’m really happy that I’m a young carer because I wouldn’t have been able to have that wonderful opportunity if I wasn’t”
”It’s really nice to be around people who understand what you are going through… even if you don’t actually want to talk about it, it’s nice to know they would understand if you wanted to”
How does being called a ‘young carer’ make you feel?
”I feel fine with it because it’s just who I am”
”I feel proud to be one”
About Spurgeons Young Carers Services:
Spurgeons delivers support to young people up to the age of 18 who are caring for a family member with an illness or disability in the West Midlands through our Birmingham Young Carers and Wolverhampton Young Carers services.
The Birmingham Young Carers service was a finalist in two categories at the 2019 Children and Young People Now Awards in the PSHE Education Award and the Young Carers Award for its particular focus on supporting young carers looking after a parent with a drug or alcohol dependency.
To learn more about our work with Young Carers, click here.