Sarah is a young carer and has written about her experience of being a young carer for her older brother.
I have been a carer from an early age, and whilst at times it can be hard, I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive experience. My older brother, Patrick, has Downs Syndrome; this is a lifelong condition which affects the way he looks and learns. I help him with a variety of things like cooking and getting around, but whatever we do, we have a laugh. I’m incredibly privileged that sometimes my caring role can be fun; as well as Makaton sign, and helping Patrick get around, I get to spend days at the beach (Patrick’s favourite place), bowling, or eating ice cream in the sun.
A lot of the time, when people talk about young carers, they only discuss the challenges, and whilst that’s important, being a young carer can be a positive, even enjoyable experience. I have found that caring has given me three things: perspective, friends and a stronger relationship.
It’s true that young carers often mature faster than their peers because they are exposed to a lot at a young age. This can be upsetting and difficult at the time, but I’ve found that it’s given me a greater awareness of myself and the world around me. Not only has caring taught me patience, perseverance and empathy, it has helped me find a sense of purpose and fulfilment. My experience as a carer has influenced what I want to do when I’m older, and shown me the importance of standing up for what you believe in.
In my time as a young carer, I’ve been lucky to meet some amazing young people. Nearly all of them had to overcome personal challenges to get to where they are today. Amongst young carers, there is a great sense of community. Everyone understands that although we have such different experiences, we all have caring in common, which has made for some lifelong friendships!
If you're a young carer, find out what local support is available in your area.
A Stronger Relationship
In a lot of ways, Patrick and I have a relationship like any other sibling relationship. I have countless memories of singing, dancing, playing football together and us helping each other. He can also sometimes be extremely annoying, of course, listening to loud music and obsessing over football scores. In some ways though, Patrick and I are closer than a lot of siblings. Although all siblings experience tough times, our lows have been particularly low, but our highs have been particularly high. I have seen Patrick at his most ill, his most vulnerable. This just means that every achievement is a big one and every moment spent together means so much. At the end of the day, if Patrick is happy, I know it’s all worth it.
Every young carer I have met has a different experience of caring; it means so many different things to different people. Caring isn’t something that is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Caring can be fun, caring can be hard, caring can be somewhere in the middle. Caring has no doubt shaped me into the person I am today for the better.
Help and Support
Young Scot would like to say a big thank you to Sarah for sharing her experience of being a young carer with us.
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 wellbeing.
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.