A heart-wrenching letter written by teen highlights need to recognise young carers across the county.
Often hidden in plain sight, young carers are individuals up to the age of 18 who take on the responsibility of caring for family members or loved ones who may have chronic illnesses, disabilities, mental health needs or other complex needs.
They can be responsible for everyday tasks like household chores, giving out medicine or even making sure household bills are paid. This can, however, impact their lives, including education and personal development.
Charlie from Coalville, now aged 15, cares for his mother Sarah after she was in a serious car accident. Only when a professional recognised that he was a young carer was he referred to Leicestershire County Council for help.
In December 2022, Charlie was invited alongside other young carers to a meeting with Children’s Commissioner for England Dame Rachel de Souza, where he read out a letter written based on his own experience.
In the letter, Charlie says: “I feel guilty. Why? Because I can't be there for my mum all the time. I wake up thinking is my mum ok and not been poorly through the night.
“I love my mum and will do anything for her - even though she is always telling me to go with my friends and be a teenager.
“Young carers groups have helped me meet other people in the same situation and understand how I'm feeling. Without both young carers’ groups I wouldn't have had the support, help and guidance that I needed.
“Being a young carer affects every aspect of my life.”
The county council’s young carers team offer young people like Charlie a range of help, including:
- Young carers assessment
- One-to one sessions with a youth worker
- Young carer youth groups or CYCLe (County Youth Council for Leicestershire)
- ID card / young carers passport to support children to identify themselves as young carers to schools, health providers and other organisations
- Young carers can be registered at GP surgeries, schools, colleges and education providers.
I’m glad that Charlie has found support for him as a young carer, and I feel that more young carers out there could benefit from having similar support that Charlie has. There needs to be more awareness of what a young carer is so they can get the support they need.
Person:Sarah, Charlie’s mother
Although he has support from family, it can often be overwhelming for him as he misses out on activities that are deemed ‘normal’ for his age. Since reaching out for help his life has been made a lot easier.
Hear more from Charlie on his experience on YouTube.