My name’s Emma, I’m 17. I live with my sister and Mum. Mum has Rheumatoid Arthritis. I’ve been caring for her since Dad left four years ago. Mum doesn’t like to leave the house as she finds it difficult to do even the simplest tasks without getting tired. On bad days Mum can’t even make herself a cup of tea, so I do all the household tasks, which include cooking, cleaning, shopping for food and paying the bills. I love my Mum a lot and I want to help her as much as possible.
When I was sitting my mock GCSE’s my Dad had a stroke. He had a good job and was the main earner in our house. Dad doesn’t work anymore. He can’t be left on his own for very long periods of time as he is likely to leave the cooker or the fire on, or let the bath overflow. He has difficulty understanding what is going on around him. He is very demanding so me and my Mum share the caring role. It gets in the way of my school work and I’m always tired or irritable during the day. Alice, aged 16.
My brother Ben has learning disabilities. When I was younger I just had to watch out for Ben and make sure he didn’t hurt himself or break anything. Now Ben is getting older, bigger and heavier, I have to do more to help him. Dad works away from home and Mum has a bad arm so can’t lift Ben anymore. I have to get up early and help get Ben ready before going to school. Then, when I get home, I sit and play with Ben so he doesn’t get lonely. When it’s time for bed I help Ben get ready and lift him into bed. I love Ben and enjoy spending time with him but it doesn’t give him much time to do the things I’d like to do. Harry, aged 12.
I help my Mum look after my Dad. He has Multiple Sclerosis. My brother Amit, he’s 5, also helps. Dad is getting worse. He can walk around a little bit but not without a stick and he sometimes has to use a wheelchair. Over the past five years he has got so bad that he hasn’t been able to do a lot of the things he could do before. Mum does most of the caring as well as a part time job. My Dad goes to a day centre three times a week, which takes the strain off Mum. I normally help Mum with the cooking and cleaning. Dad used to do jobs such as going up ladders to change light bulbs but now I do them. I love my family and want to help Mum as much as possible. Narinder, aged 13.
My Mum has depression and this means that she gets very sad sometimes and finds it hard to look after herself, the house and me. As there is no-one else at home, I have learnt how to cook, clean, pay the bills and sort out Mums medication. Mum often won’t come out of her room in the morning and so I think about her at school and worry. Sometimes this gets so bad I can’t think about anything else and I run out of class. The teachers have spoken to me about it but I haven’t told them about Mum. I’m scared they won’t believe me or they’ll split me and Mum up. Jamie, aged 11.
Kids at school say stuff about Dad but when he’s ok he’s the best Dad in the world. He makes me laugh all the time. When he’s ill he says weird stuff sometimes. Once he took too many pills. I came in and he was lying on the floor and I had to call an ambulance. I don’t like going to school when he’s having a bad day now. Mum has to go to work or she’ll lose her job. He says he’s ok but I can tell he’s just saying that. I try to make him laugh or do nice things like help cook tea but it doesn’t make any difference. I hate it when the other kids say stuff about him. I just want to punch them but I don’t let them see me upset. I go to a young carers club now and that’s good because other kids there know what its like and the workers are really nice. We don’t have to talk about looking after someone but you just know so you don’t have to explain stuff or make excuses. Last school holiday we went on trips to bowling and the cinema and stuff, which was cool. My best friend is called Amy and I talk to her on the phone when I can’t leave Dad on his own. Chloe, aged 8.
Sometimes my life seems different to other peoples. My mates think I’m boring because I won’t go out when they do. I make up excuses but I can’t go out when I need to look after my Mum. When she got MS (Multiple Sclerosis) she started having good and bad days. On the bad days, she falls over or can’t get up the stairs so I have to help her and do everything. Dad doesn’t live with us anymore. Jenny, my little sister, does a bit to help but sometimes she just acts like a kid so I have to do all the washing up and cleaning and make her behave because Mum can’t chase after her. I pretend it’s ok to Mum most of the time, but I get angry when she doesn’t understand. My teacher used to tell me off a lot for not getting my work done but they didn’t know I was getting up in the night to help Mum. One of them is ok because I told him what was happening at home. It was embarrassing telling them but he was ok about it. I don’t want to stop looking after Mum. I’m better at helping her than anyone else would be but sometimes I just want to go out and forget about it. Tyler aged 10.