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Mary’s story

Kids’ Young Carers Club has supported Mary*, aged 16, and her family for seven years. She lives with her mum, who has an adult diagnosis of autism and long Covid, and her brother Ronnie who has a diagnosis of autism, is non-verbal and has severe learning difficulties. Mary shared her story with us.

*Mary is not her real name

The realities of being a young carer

Mary realised she was a young carer when her brother was diagnosed and her dad left the family home. At two years old, Ronnie was not walking or talking like other children his age. Mary finds being a young carer to her brother very challenging, and this has impacted her mental health. While attending school – and now college – she worried about her mum and brother. She was especially concerned about her mum’s health and the complications of long Covid.

Ronnie demonstrates his frustrations through violence and Mary is often punched, kicked, slapped, pinched and shouted at. As he gets older and bigger, it hurts Mary more because he has no idea as to his own strength. Other challenges for Mary include bullying at school, where she is often made fun of for her brother’s behaviour, and missing out on family experiences because they wouldn’t be suitable for Ronnie.

Mary feels that she is second best within the family unit, which creates feelings of sadness and isolation. She often doesn’t bother seeking help with some of these problems, as she feels that no one will understand. In addition her mum’s health has recently deteriorated, so Mary supports her by cooking evening meals and regularly helping her brother with his bedtime routine. This has impacted her studies, including her GCSEs where she didn’t do as well as she was hoping.

How Kids supports Mary

Kids’ Young Carers Club allows Mary to talk freely about her worries with other young carers. She is able to attend activities while worrying a little bit less about her family. Staff offer a listening ear, and can signpost her to other services if need be.

Mary says

“At the Young Carers’ Club I feel like I can be myself and am accepted. Plus the activities during the school holidays are really cool. I am in a better place mentally than I was before; everyone gives me reassurance that I am not alone and I am stronger than I think (I carry a lot on my shoulders). It gave me an advantage in my school class of child development, made me more patient, caring and understanding. I think I would be a bit of a brat if I only had to care about myself. I am more grateful compared to my peers.”

Mary’s living situation and mental health have declined recently, partly because of the cost of living crisis and partly because of a breakdown in her relationship with her dad. Kids staff supported her by contacting her GP and arranging talking therapy support.

Mary’s mum says

“Thank you for the advice to visit Citizens Advice for a benefits check, and for the offer to help me make an appointment as well as the support you are giving Mary. The Young Carers Project is very much appreciated and it helps so much knowing Mary has someone she can confide in.”

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