Don’t let your caring role stop you from achieving your goals

21 March 2014

Guest blog from young adult carer, Matt, as part of NIACE’s WE Care project, which is exploring the support young adult carers require to make successful transitions into learning and work.

I always tell people that I am one of the lucky ones.

I’ve had a caring role from a young age and have grown into the lifestyle it commands – I don’t know any different. It’s shaped me as a person and has helped me become who I am, and the support I’ve received during this time has helped me achieve what I have. I have gained so much experience through my caring role and it truly has given me some great opportunities. I am extremely grateful for that.

Having a supportive family always helps, and that’s exactly what I have. Times have been hard – my mother passed away just two weeks before my brother was diagnosed with his condition. But my father and step-mother have pulled through with me. In terms of education, I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to focus on my studies and achieve good grades without distraction. However, I know this isn’t the case for most young carers. I feel it’s important that schools/colleges are aware of the fact that certain students are carers, as it’s certain to have an impact one way or another. It’s the same with work. Employers simply must know their staff, including any necessary information about caring roles. This way, schools/colleges and workplaces can offer the best possible support to carers, and get the best out of them in return.

Sometimes there can be a stigma attached to caring. This is especially the case with young male carers. Again, I have no shame for what I do. Why should I? I’m proud of it and I’m proud of my family for how they cope. Yet, despite the fact they’re doing a great thing, young carers (especially males) don’t feel confident to speak out about their experiences. I urge them to do so though, they will feel better for it. Like me, they should be proud of what they do. It’s up to them whether they tell others about what they do, but I believe they should always be able to tell people without feeling ashamed in any way.

To all other young carers I’d say – be confident and be proud of what you do; don’t let it stop you from achieving your goals and never be afraid to ask for help.