Fatimah's Blog: I Am a Young Carer

Fatimah is a young carer who is part of Carers Trust Scotland's Young Carer and Young Adult Carer Advisory Group. In this blog, Fatimah explains how being a person of colour has shaped her experience of being a young carer. 

I am a young carer like any other from an ethnic background who has just grown into the role, not knowing, not realising and moulded by cultural norms, demands, and etiquette.

I am a young carer like any other young adult with a caring role, but the difference is that my language does not have a word to define my role.

I am a young carer who juggles life as it comes in all its different forms but caring overshadows all.

I am a young carer, but my culture tells me that I should not speak openly about my role, I am a young carer who must just do the expected without a frown on my forehead because it is a “duty”.

A noble duty, they tell me, to be undertaken because we are family. A duty to be carried out diligently but never to complain of the difficulties it entails, of the sleepless nights and weary, groggy eyes and endless demands that if I am honest, can sometimes drive one over the edge. It is, you see, seen as a family responsibility and departing from this is taboo. In my culture carers are never recognised, never appreciated, never understood; they are expected to live forever in the shadows of the illness of the cared for, and the cared for’s needs are always put ahead of their own. This is what we are expected to do and would be damned for eternity should we fail. So it comes as no big surprise that eyebrows rise should anyone in that role say they need a break and all hell breaks loose if one asks for a life of their own.The invisible barriers some of them face are insurmountable. 

I cannot remember when I became a carer, no one asked me if I wanted to be one, if I was ready to be one, or if I was comfortable being one. It was assumed that I would, just like my mum before me. She certainly did everything that was expected and as the caring role became more intensive, she left her job, her ambitions, and whatever dreams she might have had. No one as little as sympathised. She silently dealt with the loss of her financial independence, her restricted social life and her slow descent into isolation, and loneliness - her persona gradually faded into oblivion, unnoticed.  Her only defining glory in life became the role with no name, nor anyrecognition. 

I do admire those that silently accept the role of being a family carer. I see them try hard but a vast majority fail miserably in balancing their lives with their caring duties. Invariably their own lives take the back seat. I do admire how they somehow still manage life with thin smiles and veiled untold frustrations that almost shackle their very existence -  I, though, feel it is time to work to bring down barriers. 

My identity as a person of colour living between cultures, and in being fortunate enough to be supported by an organisation that recognises that being an unpaid carer is just as rigorous and demanding a job as any other, empowers me to say proudly that I am a young carer, and that I deserve to be recognised, that there is no shame in accepting help and support, and that it is okay to say “no” when needed.  I know I am important because my role as a carer is important. In fact, the bigger picture says carers are vital as longer waiting times for treatment and diagnosis mean intensified caring. I say carers do not need to suffer silently.  It is no secret that carers' health and well-being, especially their mental health take a hit. We need to emerge from the shadows and shine, despite the rigours of our caring roles and cultural norms that pressurise us into silent acceptance - we need to reclaim our voice and independence, something we can do through talking, sharing, and listening to each other.  

Help and Support

Young Scot would like to say a big thank you to Fatimah for sharing her experience of being a young carer with us.

Fatimah has received support from Carers Trust Scotland and is a part of the Young Carer and Young Adult Carer Advisory Group, if you would like to find out more about the group's work or how to get involved, please contact the Youth Engagement Officer Nicola Bell.

If you're a young carer in Scotland,  there is help and support available to you. You might want to take a look at our young carer page packed full of information about being a young carer, what support is available and financial help. If you're 18 or under, you can also sign up for the Young Carers Package for free, this gives you access to exclusive Rewards and Opportunities and new Rewards are added on a regular basis! These include things like digital vouchers, wellbeing boxes and opportunities to enter competitions for prizes such as wireless headphones, family National Trust Membership and so much more!

If you're struggling with your mental health and emotional wellbeing, take a look at our #AyeFeel page which has a range of organisations you can speak to, mindfulness exercises, coping strategies and blogs from other young people. It's really important that you look after your own mental health and emotional well-being. 

There are also organisations that can support you in your local area and provide you with opportunities to meet other young carers. Take a look at our page on support available to discover what's near you.

Young Scot supports young people to share their own voices, views and opinions and works with partner organisations and professionals who are experts in different topics. The views expressed in this blog are those of the young people, organisations and/or individuals who have taken part in the blog, not necessarily the views of Young Scot.