Who Am I?

May I have your attention?

A few minutes of your time,

Take a break from your life,

I’ll tell you how I live mine.

See this face? See this smile? See these eyes open wide?

It’s a mask to disguise how I’m feeling inside,

I’m one in twelve in my city, yet it’s hard to describe,

But just give me a moment, I promise, I’ll try.

I’m a cook; a cleaner; a doctor; a healer,

A helper; a sitter; a supporter; a leader,

By my demeanour, it may not always be clear that I’m needed,

When my mum takes a fall, has a fit or a seizure,

When my brother breaks his toys and I pick up the pieces,

When his autism means that even though I pleaded,

He kicks and he screams and every day this is repeated,

But before bed, I still hug him, because I know he doesn’t mean it.

And some might say that this sounds strange,

Why I have all these skills and I don’t even get paid,

When I get home from school and make sure the table is laid,

Because my dad is upstairs, still in bed, still afraid,

Oh, I’m sorry, did I not mention?

That his mind is affected by stress and by tension,

Depression that means he requires my attention,

So my homework goes unwritten with no chance of extension.

I shop; I feed; I help shower and bathe,

I wash; I make sure that the beds are all made,

I talk; I listen; I cuddle; I play,

I make sure that the medicine is stored safely away.

And even though I know that those who love me understand,

It’s hard to keep up friendships when I have to cancel plans,

When phone calls go unanswered, when they say they’ll lend a hand,

Sometimes it feels that it’s only me who can.

So thank you for listening,

To the words I have to say,

About how I live my life,

About what I do each day,

I hope; I dream; I wonder; I pray,

Because I’m a young carer,

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This poem was created by combining quotes from young carers during one-to-one sessions in Autumn 2017. Thanks to all of the young carers who contributed.

I Come From

I come from the dull British weather and hot Sunday dinners,

from comfy pajama days curled up with Adam Sandler.

I come from scary thoughts and fights outside, from arguments

everyday and no smiles. I come from being in a foster home

but still call my old house home. I come from a world

with judging people, different people and similar people.

I come from a family with love, from broken bones to broken hearts.

I come from being a baby with laugher, joy and wonder,

from waking up to six important people in my life, to then only one.

I come from a world without voices except the one inside my head.

I come from my childhood being amazing to the start of my teens

being a disaster. I come from a family that loved me.

I come from a place I call home.

Written by Elicia, age 14, as part of Youth Word Up 2017

 

North & South

I come from the streets of Parson Cross

but I grew up before in the fresh salt air of the Suffolk coast.

I come from a family of dreamers but we still feel the worry.

I come from tea and crumpets but the mirror on the wall

in the front room plays out pictures of violence in the streets outside.

I come from avoiding the drugs, guns and gangs of the Win Gardens,

and from knowing the well-tended gardens of the rich.

I come from the smell of freshly cooked stew while I’m curled

in front of the TV, but I know the pressure and slog of hard graft.

I come from the snow and ice of the north,

but have felt the tropics of the south.

I come from schools that know rich, and schools that know poor,

but I always suffered the torments and traumas of the lunchtime yard.

I come from dreams and goals but I’ve yet to succeed.

 I come from the wood chip of council rows, the cheek

of the private lord (who doesn’t understand the word private),

from the all mod-cons of static caravan living.

I come from moving 200 miles, from losing friends to distance,

from a missed coastline, sunshine and seagulls.

I come from poverty and wealth,

the north and the south.

I come from the steal and the dockyard,

from waiting for dreams to lift their anchor

and push themselves from the shore.

Written by Steven, age 16, as part of Youth Word Up 2017

 

I Come From

I come from a broken marriages, older brothers

and free time. I come from a parent who was never there,

and a parent who was always stressed.

I come from quiet nights lost in thought, from long days

living through war, the smell of alcohol and cigarettes,

toys that were left on shelfs.

I come from falling out of trees and snowball fights,

from always arguing about what is right, from love

and protection, from not showing any emotion.

I come from broken trust and broken bonds.

I come from sleepless nights and never forgetting

to turn off the lights, from a broken home.

Some things are best not to be known.

Although it’s large and dysfunctional,

family is what I call home.

Written by Natasha, age 13, as part of Youth Word Up 2017

 

I Come From

I come from rice in water, dirty counters,

digital screens, pens on paper, from working

in the evenings, and an empty home.

I come from a loving mother,

a kind woman, from messy rooms,

healthy food.

I come from the words in my head

and words said behind my back,

from feet weighted over me.

I come from rocks in my face,

from verbal pain and pointing fingers.

I come from too many homes, restless nights,

from a bullet in my brain,

from loud noises,

from enjoying the silence.

Written by Catriona age 12, as part of Youth Word Up 2017

 

Radiators [for my brother]

Painted sheets of dove white metal was usual.

He had porcelain, not bad just different,

different way to heat up or dry things.

No magnets holding photos stuck to memory,

just twine holding on odd words and phrases

and sounds. Yet memories jagged and unchronological,

popped in from time to time, sometimes like Mammie

on a Friday afternoon. A new engrossing topic,

a new coloured string to attempt to tie things in place.

Porcelain is delicate, beautiful for creative activities

but magnets just don't work. Sometimes it's best

to leave the heating off, as the memories

might burn, and crack the ceramics.

Written by Maya, age 15, as part of Youth Word Up 2017

I Come From

I come from Mr Logic and Mrs Forest schools,

from travel here, travel there,  never settle down anywhere.

I come from mixing Aldi with Waitrose, ground almonds

and tinned soup.

I come from ‘What ya fuckin’ looking at?

And – ‘Just ignore them’,

from never staring the issue in the face, huh.

I come from the same repetitive conversations, predictable outcomes,

from graced hearts and chipped mugs.

Written by Maya, age 15, as part of Youth Word Up 2017

We Are

We are people just like you,

We’re introducing what young carers do,

We are always there,

Whenever they need care,

We are cleaners, cookers, shoppers,

Child entertainers and parent brainers,

We are responsible and reliable,

Thoughtful and dependable,

We remember to give them their meds,

Whilst we wash the clothes and clean the beds.

We are good listeners and patient,

Busy, helpful and organised,

We are strong, willing and independent,

But often go unrecognised,

We are tired and worried, desperate for support,

We are stretched and challenged much more than we ought,

Our days are full, minds preoccupied,

But you can help, just be on our side!

We are trustworthy and passionate about what we do,

We are a team and need support from you.

We are young but mature,

We are young carers.

Written by SYC young adult carers aged 16-25, October 2015