At PKAVS Young Carers Service we currently support over 250 young people. The Young Carers that we support are aged between 8 and 15 years old and provide care for a family member due to disability, mental health, chronic/terminal illness or problems relating to substance misuse.
C'Jai is a 15 year old Young Carer who we have supported over the last 2 years. C'Jai has very kindly written a heartwarming blog post that details her unique caring situation and positive experiences with PKAVS Young Carers Service.
"Being a child is easy, that's what everyone thinks. Unfortunately it's not, especially when you're a young carer. I have been a young carer since I was really little, I didn't even know I was a young carer until around two years ago I thought what I was doing was normal and didn't realise it was different to anything anybody else my age does. I live with my mum, my dad and my 10 year old little brother. I'm 15 and I am currently transitioning into S5. I'm called C'Jai, and I am a young carer.
I care for my dad who suffers from many mental and physical disabilities. It can be challenging and tiring to be a young carer but I wouldn't change it for the world.
Being a young carer effects my school work, I don't have much time to study compared to others, I don't always have the chance to study. Starting my Highers at school is really scary... people keep telling me that I need to study loads, but In reality I can't. I sometimes miss days at school to look after my dad because to me his wellbeing is more important. School is a scary place, many don't understand the everyday struggles I go through being a young carer, I just want more people to understand.
Another thing my young carer role effects is my social life, I miss out on events my friends go to, I don't manage to do things people my age do. I can’t go out whenever I want, I can't just go to the park when I want because I have responsibilities at home. My friends don't always understand that I can't come out because I need to look after my dad or help out around the house. I want a friend to understand.
February 2016, the start of me getting help from PKAVS young carers. My 14 year old, quiet and scared self was soon to become a 15 year old happy, loud and confident girl who was as happy as ever. For me the team at PKAVS have helped me in more ways than anybody could ever imagine.
I get access to respite groups to give me time out and to be with other young people in same situations. I also received one-to-one support and this helped me with my anxiety and how I coped with it. I also managed to go to London with PKAVS last year in October for a week. This was one of the best experiences of my life!! I went on the London Eye, MadameTussauds, I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the theatre and many more things. It gave me well needed time out and let me get to know people who understood how I was feeling. I am a changed person, getting support and help has helped me so much.. although being a young carer is hard, tiring and I still have bad days, I can now enjoy each day and I also know where I can get support when I need it. Who would have thought it? My 14 year old self suffering with anxiety and had no confidence would turn into a 15 year old with confidence, feeling happy and louder than ever.
Without support I wouldn't have managed it... I love my family more than ever and I will forever more; being a young carer is amazing, and I'm proud of being a young carer!"
The tickets were booked, the passports were ready and the bags were packed! 4am on August 3rd 2017, 10 young carers met with Billy, Katie and Jasmin to head off on the journey of a lifetime.