The forum of young carers is a topic which I have wanted to address for some time. In what way and the tone that it would be set was debatable. It needs to be expressed in the finesse and delicacy that it deserves and ultimately, I did not think I could bring that. Yet, I have found a reason in these past months as to exactly why I should write this post.
To those who know me well enough know that I have two younger brothers who are both disabled. This immediately sets me in the category of a young carer. At the age of six, I became hundreds of thousands of children and young people across the nation who cared for someone.
I began a ‘scheme’, if you will, called Dudley Young Carers. This opened a world to me for which I will forever be grateful. I met people who understood and didn’t judge. We never really talked about who we cared for or why we were there. It was to make friends and to socialise out of those usual social boundaries.
Most of the people I know of seemed to have had harder lives than me and it made me thankful for what I had. There were children/adolescents from broken families or intact families, caring for their brother, sister, mother, father, grandparents… Whoever. And they still continued their lives without a fuss.
I find these people completely inspiring and courageous in ways I never felt.
Young carers rarely ask for recognition but a voice. They are some of the most under-recognised groups across the world and they go through hardships in their childhood and adolescence that some may never go through in their lifetime.
But this is the real issue here.
No matter how much these people deserve recognition and support for the lives they maintain, there is hardly any call to do so. You can tell me reason after reason why I could be wrong. National holidays for young carers, national charities, local services, and local support from professionals. But I stand by what I said.
Particularly after the cuts to services, there is a thin line between what is now a young carers’ service and complete extinction. I have sympathy for the volunteers, workers, and kids who cope with this system and still maintain optimism. Because to me, even with all this ‘support’, young carers are still brushed aside.
There are children/adolescents/young people out there who do amazing things and you can tell them that a nod of the head from a professional or MP or a charity is enough. Well done, kids. We admire you but we can’t help you. I don’t condone this whatsoever.
Tell this to the small child who watched someone die or their parents have died/left them. Or to the kids who get passed around by guardians/older carers. To the kids who are failing or not attending school. The kids who lose a sibling and still maintain household chores. Or to the kids who looks after their siblings and their parent/s. Those kids who go to school, help at home, and have a job. Or those exact kids who will grow up battling emotional or mental illness.
Go on. Tell them.
You deserve this pat on the back but nothing more.
Am I upset? Yes. Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I angry? Yes. But am I bitter? No. Because this is not the right way to explain how I feel about this. I was privileged to be part of a service that thrived in the past and left before it truly went downhill.
See, I’m not speaking ill of the people who help run this service as they have the best intentions, so I salute you. But the people at the top who tell them that these children- our children- don’t deserve the support they need. That they can stay at home without any help whatsoever and make the best of what they have.
And for those adults and professionals who allow some sort of recognition and yet still trample you to the ground. Letting you know that no matter what you do, there are people who can receive everything in the world on a silver platter who deserve more than you ever could. For those few, I hold you in the lowest regard.
To see something treasured by those families and children- not just the service but the additions it brings- be slashed into something minimal is heart-wrenching. Not only is this the fault of the government for the lack of debate it brings to these issues, but some people lower down who agree with the government. That this is not an issue to be taken seriously.
This is nothing if not serious.
These amazing children/adolescents/young people are more inspirational than I can bear to say or write down in so many words. There are lists of reasons why they deserve endless praise. And they should, above all, be respected as the human beings they are.
Someone Who Knows.