Rosie, 13 years old

Hi, my name is Rosie.

I’m not sure when I started caring but my mum got ill when I was 3 and my dad before I was born. My mum has had burst vessels, and my dad has a bowel disease triggered by stress, so when my mum is ill, so is my dad. My mum stutters, forgets things and speaks without thinking. Me and my sister have a lot of chores to do, a small room we share and it can be stressful.

My life didn’t feel different for a long time. It wasn’t until I started speaking to my friends that I realised how different my life is. I don’t get much time to relax alone, or go out with my friends, especially when both of my parents are ill. I am under more pressure than my friends and I have to do more around my house.

My highs are how close it brings us as a family and the amount of cooking and baking I get to do. The lows are not being able to connect with friends, not being able to have people over because my mum needs rests, having chores to do like going and buying local groceries, and the arguments I often end up in.

I am a hyper person, so when my family are stressed, they get annoyed. I also struggle keeping up with school, remembering things and doing jobs on time, with my caring responsibilities being the main cause of stress. This makes me distance myself from friends and I have been struggling with anxiety and depression for a long time. I feel like I’m old and younger at the same time. Older because I have to care and younger because when I’m at school it’s like an escape: I can be as hyper as I want but I later regret my actions. I don’t get to go out much, I don’t have a social life outside of school, restricting when I can see friends and meet new people.

I also have osteogenesis imperfecta meaning my bones are weak and restrict what I can do, and meaning I have to miss school for hospital appointments. But school isn’t a perfect haven: I have been bullied in the past several times.

I want to help other people though so, even through all this, I volunteer to help the Y7s transition in school. I used to be in the 12-16 group at SYC and I recently joined Action Group to raise awareness and help others.


Sara, Managing Director of SYC

Got a few minutes? We’d highly recommend using them to read Sara Gowen’s fantastic blog post on her recent research, which posed the questions, ‘How can we prevent young carers undertaking inappropriate or excessive care?’ and, ‘What are the challenges, evidence and actions needed to ensure we are not relying upon children and young people to provide care?’.

We’ve included a small taster of Sara’s research below and you can read the full post here, on the Research in Practice website.

“Our research found that young carers are often holding responsibilities for caring for their family members 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year. The young carers we talked to found night time caring responsibilities the most challenging, for example, the constant worrying, responsibility for checking on the cared for person, checking their home is safe and secured for the night. The disturbed nights and lack of sleep have a profound impact on young carers’ daily lives and especially on school days. We conclude that government needs to urgently ‘stop the clock’ on round the clock caring by young people through better monitoring, support and, where necessary, intervention.“

Our family holiday

Last October, we got a chance to take a break from our daily routine and enjoy a holiday at Reighton Sands Holiday Park in Filey, thanks to Maryam, our Family Worker at SYC. Not only did the place look massive but the staff were all so welcoming. The kids got frisbees and sweets on arrival and the caravan, which was our home for the next three days, was standard but had a really modern look.

On the very first evening, we went to the arcades and it felt so nice to see the kids having fun. We won loads of tickets in the arcade and then had fish and chips. Tea was nice but a bit over-priced – we didn't get much for the kids meals but we were fed and ready for the arcade again.

Our second day began with exploring the pool side in the morning. Zach loved it and didn't want to come out of it. The pool was very basic with no slides but it's great for little kids as it is not very deep. Afterwards we had dinner at McDonald’s in Scarborough which was about a 14-mile round trip so it’s good if you have a car.

We then went on a free beach bus ride, which collects passengers from a bus stop at the top of the site and then drives you down to the beach. The beach was rocky but it was lovely to walk on. We enjoyed our evening tea at the onsite Hawkwood restaurant. The food was fresh and tasty. The Show Bar is great for kids but expensive if you buy toys and stuff (light up toys, teddies).

The next day, we travelled to Flamborough and had a walk on the cliffs and sipped a cuppa in the café which was nice. Zach loved being out in the fresh air. We went for dinner at The Hawkwood again that night and the kids went back in the arcade to collect more tickets before we went into The Showbar and watched a pantomime.

We all really enjoyed our stay at Reighton Sands Holiday Park and we will definitely be going back in the future. The place was so nice and child-friendly – the kids loved it. The staff in the arcade are brilliant with the kids. Most importantly they are great with anyone with disabilities. It's a safe caravan site and children under 8 get a neon orange band (when swimming, but can be kept on during the whole holiday period), that has space to write emergency details on, so you can write your name and number in case your child gets lost on site.

The security people on site are lovely too and nothing is too much trouble. The disabled toilet has a baby change in there so we used it a lot and when we ask the security man for the key, we never got the feeling that they were fed up of us asking!!

Overall the holiday was brilliant and we’re looking at booking for next year for a mid-week break. Thank you so much Maryam – it was just what we all needed!!

Maryam, Family Support Worker

My name is Maryam and I started working with SYC in 2011. The fact that SYC is a charity and does a lot of great work with vulnerable people made me want to be part of this kind of organisation.

One of the best things about working for SYC is that, as staff, we care about the people that we work with. We all want to make positive changes for vulnerable families. I feel that we are all passionate about the work that we do: I care a great deal about how I do my work.

‘Caring’ is an important aspect of what I do - it’s not just a job. I feel very privileged to walk into someone’s house and for them to let you in and tell you about their struggles. That is a very hard thing for anyone to do, to expose yourself emotionally, being open, honest and vulnerable.                  

The journey that I take with families is important to me. It helps us both to see the distance that we have travelled together from start to finish. Helping to resolve or address difficulties that families have had are important, as these can be the stumbling blocks in preventing them from enjoying their family life together. Reducing those stresses and anxieties is important, alongside creating some of the nicer moments like arranging a family holiday, so that they can create happy memories which is a really positive goal to work towards.

Family work is not an easy job. No one family is ever the same as another. However, when I have been able to work with a family to help them address their issues and enable them to move forward, that feels like a great achievement. Although the work can be challenging it is also extremely emotionally rewarding.

Jenny, 12 years old

I started to care for my mum when I was five years old (ish). She needs help due to multiple spinal problems, including slipped discs. This affects her ability to bend and carry heavy weights. I do the washing, lifting, cooking and sometimes I help her put socks or shoes on. It is hard for me because I am an only child and I only have my dad to help with caring for my mum.

Compared to those who don’t have caring roles, I hardly get breaks away from my caring and hardly get out at weekends. A highlight for me about my caring role is that I get to spend time with those I care for. However, a low is that I don’t have a high social status with friends.

Before I joined Action Group I had support through SYC groups and 121 sessions. I joined Action Group because I want to help and support other young carers and gain confidence. From the group I have made new friends for life and helped make change for others. I’m most proud of us getting to meet Theresa May because it could make lots of changes for the better in future life.

Ben, 16 years old

I started caring for my mum when I was about 8 years old. She needs my help to look after my little brothers and sister and she also needs my help in lifting, cooking, cleaning, shopping, lots of things. I also care for my brother as he has cancer. I help him to feel better about himself and I play games with him. This affects both my mum and brother in a good way and it eases off their stress and anxiety. I don’t get to go out with friends as much due to stress and school work builds up.

My life is different to young people who aren’t carers because I have a lot more responsibility and stress on my shoulders. The highs of being a carer are that I feel good about what I’ve done while lows are that I have stress, anxiety and less time.

Before joining the Action Group at SYC I had no help but groups gave me a break from my caring. I joined the Action Group because I wanted to build my skills and confidence. I have increased my skills and confidence and got a break and made new friends. Of everything we’ve done, I am most proud of making people happy.