Charlotte is one of several unpaid carers in East Sussex to take part in our inter-generational Carers’ Words, Carers’ Lives heritage project. Charlotte took part in a short film in which she tells her story and talks about an object that has special meaning to her.
“My name’s Charlotte. I care for my mum who’s got terminal cancer and has maybe two years to live but may live longer. I care for my mum at home.”
What responsibilities do you have?
With my mum, I help her with all the shopping and the cleaning, and making sure she gets out – and more, the emotional support. I’ll help her through all her scenarios of everyday life. At the beginning I found it very difficult, and I think I still do now. It’s quite an emotional burden on me… I will seek help in some ways but also try and find strategies to work around it.
How does Care for the Carers support you?
If I’ve got issues, I can go straight to Care for the Carers and they’ll give me the practical advice to deal with them. They do days out and a so all of us meet up in a youth group. We have a structured hour of it, then we’d have a bit of fun and games, to relieve us from the caring role.
What do you want to tell the world about being a carer?
As a young carer, there should be more understanding in secondary schools because some people won’t understand what the concept is and why we do it. We haven’t chosen to do it, we just do it out of love. It is a struggle but people need to realise that even if you’ve got a caring role you’ve still got to keep your morals and ambitions. I want to do psychology and sociology at university. I need to organise my life around that… make a life for myself.
What object is precious to you?
I had a mentor, and for my birthday she bought me a bracelet with a heart: it’s sentimental to me. When mum started to become unwell, I would wear it to college to keep me going. It’s like a good luck charm; reassurance. If anything happens at least I’m not worrying because I feel like it’s my guardian angel.
“You’ve got to carry on, haven’t you, to get through the difficult bits and hopefully there’ll be some light at the end…”
Are you under 16 or looking for support for young carers?
Please contact East Sussex Young Carers/IMAGO, whichsupports Young Carers aged 5-18 who are responsible for caring for a family member with a long term illness or disability, prioritising Young Carers caring for a parent with a mental health or drug and alcohol issue.Telephone:0300 777 2011 or email:email@example.com
Walking the 100 Mile South Downs Walk for carers
I figured if the YACs can do it, when they already do so much in their caring roles, then I’ve got no excuse. – Tom, a pupil at Eastbourne’s Ratton School.