My name is Andrea and I am very lucky. As the Young Adult Carer Support Worker for Carer Support Wiltshire I have the privilege of working with some of the most amazing young people you could ever wish to meet.
A young adult carer is someone aged 18-25 years old who looks after a loved one who couldn’t always manage without their support. It might be because of a disability, illness, mental health problems or substance misuse. It might be all that they have ever known from a very young age.
Their lives are often difficult, juggling caring with studying or working. If they are lucky, they get to spend time with friends and do all the things that young people their age should be doing, but that’s often a luxury. Whilst their peers are thinking about further education, careers and their social lives, they are worrying, planning, arranging and doing all the things that will keep their loved one safe, well and cared for. Many young adult carers suffer with mental health issues due to the extreme stress they are under. However, they all have an inner strength and determination which I find incredible.
My days vary, from spending time one-to-one with young adult carers, talking to support services and other organisations who may be able to help, to raising awareness in the regions colleges.
Today, I met a young lady who wants to go to university. She is worried that if she goes, there will be no-one to look after her mum. This is a common problem amongst young carers who want to spread their wings and build a future, but don’t want to abandon the person they care for. We talk about how important it is to stay true to your dreams and what we can do to help make it happen. This includes information and guidance around loans and the funding she will need to finance her education.
Later I support a young adult carer during a Needs Assessment for her mum. The assessment will help them access the help they need so that she can go back to work. She is nervous about meeting so many professionals and I’m there to make sure she doesn’t feel overwhelmed. I will also organise a meeting with a Macmillan Welfare Advisor for another young carer. At the age of 18 the prospect of running the family finances on your own is quite scary.
After a cup of tea and large piece of homemade cake, I type up a grant application that will hopefully enable a young adult carer to learn to drive. Many parts of Wiltshire are quite rural and being able to take the person you care for to the GP, hospital or shopping is so much easier and less stressful if you are not having to use the bus.
The day is nearly over, but not before I see a young adult carer start her volunteer training here at CSW. Her journey has been particularly difficult with sometimes no end in sight, but we have worked together and never given up, and now here we are! There will be other challenges along the way, because that is the nature of a caring role, but little steps lead to bigger strides and seeing her here gives me great job satisfaction.
If you would like any further information about Young Adult Carers take a look at our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/YACWiltshire/ or call us on 0800 181 4118.
If you are a Young Adult Carer and feel uneasy about speaking on the phone email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.