Conor

My mum is bipolar so I spent most of my time in the house, looking after her. I never really went out or socialised much - I wasn’t very happy, as you can imagine. To be honest, I thought everyone looked after someone like I looked after my mum – I assumed it was normal.

I wasn’t doing that well in school as I didn’t like leaving my mum so I missed a lot of classes to stay home and keep an eye on her. When I was 15, my Pupil Support teacher, Maggie, was the one that noticed I was struggling and got in contact with Action for Children.

She introduced me to a lady called Carol Hibberts: she was the first person I met from Action for Children and she explained that I was a young carer and asked if I would like to come to an Action for Children centre to meet other young carers and have a bit of a break.

There were just so many things to do at the centre, including fire training, media courses and fashion shows. When Real Time worked with us to practice and perform a song at the local civic centre alongside the girls group of young carers that I really came out of my shell. It was chatting with the girls that really gave me a lot more confidence.

I started doing a bit better in school and making more friends because I felt like my time at the centre was giving a bit of respite from home. For the first time I started thinking about what I actually wanted to do with my life.

I was awarded a Stephenson Award for being a young carer from Action for Children as well as a Princess Diana Award from my school for looking after my mum. It made me feel really good, and like I’d been rewarded for everything I was doing, even though it was just normal stuff like cooking and cleaning. I made a lot of good friends through the centre and I went to 3 Young Carer Festivals (which are yearly) with about 500 other young carers. They’re great and have got bands, food and you got to talk to lots of people in the same situation as you.

All of the people are incredible. Knowing that someone is there for you helps so much. They have so much patience with the young people, are empathetic and listen to them. Action for Children is absolutely great. I didn’t know anything like that existed until Carol came in and talked to me about it so visibility is a very important thing. I’ve always been very passionate about telling people about the services available from Action for Children and making sure everyone knows about it through ambassadorial work and meeting people who are in the same situation I was to tell them how much it can make a difference. If you’re a young carer you are looking after people who aren’t always physically or mentally able, you need to find someone to put you on the right path otherwise you just get stuck in that loop.

amy

My mum is ok now, she still goes into hospital about once a year usually but she’s better on the whole. I see her as often as I can but she has my stepdad and I don’t worry about her as much as I used to.

All of my experiences and the people I met through Action for Children helped me decide what I wanted to do and I’m now working towards becoming an English teacher. I have my diploma and I’m working on getting my teaching degree. While I train, I’m in full-time employment and I rent my own house. I would’ve never thought about my future or what my goals were, I probably never would have gone to college, or had the confidence to go to job interviews and continue my education.

I dread to think about what would’ve happened if I hadn’t changed my course. I’m quite content with how everything is now and how my life is going. My life is where it should be in my eyes, I’m very happy.

Without Action for Children, I honestly don’t think I’d be doing anything like I’m doing now. I’d probably still be in the house, looking after my mum, not working, not doing anything.

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