'Being a carer is part of who I am'
By Lauren Baigrie, MSYP Elect for Carers Trust
In September I am starting university. Last week I was standing in an unfamiliar street in Glasgow waiting on an ambulance for my mum who took a severe allergic reaction to skin tests done an hour or so earlier.
Being a young carer isn’t always an every day thing. My mum has good days and bad days, and days in between. Some days my mum relies on me a lot, other days she doesn’t need me at all. It’s always been like that, ever since I can remember.
Bad days can mean mum doesn’t leave her bed and is in a lot of pain. At these times I tune into my mum completely, offering her emotional support and helping out as much as I can in the house. Good days, however, mean that mum is up and out the house, doing the shopping, and laughing at my awful jokes.
I love the good days, they are the best, I feel like a 'normal' teenage girl out with her mum, almost switched off from my caring role but always keeping a watchful eye on her. Not every day can be a good day, I understand that.
I got great support from school and have had amazing support from my local Young Carers Project since I was really young. Now I have left school I will continue to get support from the Young Adult Carers Project in Falkirk and Clackmannanshire Carers Centre (a Network Partner of Carers Trust Scotland) who are around to listen to me and encourage me to plan my future. Sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to juggle my caring role with education, a part time job and fitting in normal teenage things like meeting with friends but I am learning to do this better.
I know other young adult carers who received Carers Allowance but since going into further education they can no longer get it, this was a real shock to them as they are still the carer for their family member but are now fitting in a college/university course as well. Nothing has changed with their caring role, they don’t do less so why don’t they get Carers Allowance anymore? It’s not easy for them to fit in a part time job while juggling studying and caring.
Being a young carer has at times been tough, it’s impacted my life in many ways, I’m really good at organising my time but sometimes try to fit too much into it, I’ve learned to be independent but have sometimes missed out on normal time with my mum, I manage money well and I am really switched on to current affairs. My social life has been restricted but I think I’m making real efforts to change that. Being a carer for me is part of who I am, it’s part of my identity and I wouldn’t change it.
I will, sometimes nervously, stand up and talk about young carers and young adult carers issues to individuals, student nurses at university or organisations if it ensures they get the support they all need to have positive futures.