At PKAVS Young Carers Service we currently support over 250 young people. The Young Carers that we support are aged between 8 and 15 years old and provide care for a family member due to disability, mental health, chronic/terminal illness or problems relating to substance misuse.
C'Jai is a 15 year old Young Carer who we have supported over the last 2 years. C'Jai has very kindly written a heartwarming blog post that details her unique caring situation and positive experiences with PKAVS Young Carers Service.
"Being a child is easy, that's what everyone thinks. Unfortunately it's not, especially when you're a young carer. I have been a young carer since I was really little, I didn't even know I was a young carer until around two years ago I thought what I was doing was normal and didn't realise it was different to anything anybody else my age does. I live with my mum, my dad and my 10 year old little brother. I'm 15 and I am currently transitioning into S5. I'm called C'Jai, and I am a young carer.
I care for my dad who suffers from many mental and physical disabilities. It can be challenging and tiring to be a young carer but I wouldn't change it for the world.
Being a young carer effects my school work, I don't have much time to study compared to others, I don't always have the chance to study. Starting my Highers at school is really scary... people keep telling me that I need to study loads, but In reality I can't. I sometimes miss days at school to look after my dad because to me his wellbeing is more important. School is a scary place, many don't understand the everyday struggles I go through being a young carer, I just want more people to understand.
Another thing my young carer role effects is my social life, I miss out on events my friends go to, I don't manage to do things people my age do. I can’t go out whenever I want, I can't just go to the park when I want because I have responsibilities at home. My friends don't always understand that I can't come out because I need to look after my dad or help out around the house. I want a friend to understand.
February 2016, the start of me getting help from PKAVS young carers. My 14 year old, quiet and scared self was soon to become a 15 year old happy, loud and confident girl who was as happy as ever. For me the team at PKAVS have helped me in more ways than anybody could ever imagine.
I get access to respite groups to give me time out and to be with other young people in same situations. I also received one-to-one support and this helped me with my anxiety and how I coped with it. I also managed to go to London with PKAVS last year in October for a week. This was one of the best experiences of my life!! I went on the London Eye, MadameTussauds, I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the theatre and many more things. It gave me well needed time out and let me get to know people who understood how I was feeling. I am a changed person, getting support and help has helped me so much.. although being a young carer is hard, tiring and I still have bad days, I can now enjoy each day and I also know where I can get support when I need it. Who would have thought it? My 14 year old self suffering with anxiety and had no confidence would turn into a 15 year old with confidence, feeling happy and louder than ever.
Without support I wouldn't have managed it... I love my family more than ever and I will forever more; being a young carer is amazing, and I'm proud of being a young carer!"