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Ben’s story: The impact of being a young carer

08 June 2021

For many of us, childhood is a carefree time where we feel supported by our parents and able to dedicate our lives to exploration and play. However, for some young people, circumstances mean that they are required to adopt a much more adult role.

Our Young Carers Services work with young people in this position to balance their responsibilities and get the support they need and realise their own potential. Here’s just one example of what that looks like.

For eight-year-old Ben caring for his Dad led to mixed emotions. On one hand, he felt proud of his role as a young carer and the support he provides to his father, who has a brain injury. However, being a young carer also caused a lot of worry for Ben and he was sometimes frustrated by emotionally supporting his Dad. Indeed, at the point Family Action began supporting him he told us that he couldn’t control his feelings and that he was feeling depressed. He said: “I think I sometimes get overly emotional about things… more than other people do”.

Because of his condition, Ben’s father requires one-to-one support throughout the day and strict routines to ensure he remains safe both at home and in the community, as he has difficulty assessing risk and controlling his emotions. In particular, Ben said that he also “helps my (his) dad remember things because he is so forgetful”.

Both parents said they worried about Ben’s education and the social isolation that caring and responsibility might create in his life. This was further complicated as the parents found it hard to form relationships with other parents at their child’s school due to their unique family situation. Family Action worked with both Ben and his parents to help them focus on their strengths, their love and the support they wanted to provide for each other.

“I think I sometimes get overly emotional about things… more than other people do”.

We helped them to identify the changes they wanted to make. To do so we set up several one-to-one sessions and sessions with the whole family to discuss Ben’s emotional wellbeing, learn more about his father’s condition, and ultimately, help him to worry less. We place children at the centre of our work and as such we also taught him strategies he could use around the home to help him let go of his worries and also provided books and resources for him to use in future.

Furthermore, we worked with Ben’s mum to help her engage with her GP to manage her depression, and supported her to understand how the outward presentation of her depression might affect her son. The family has responded very positively to our sessions and support. Ben feels that he has better emotional wellbeing and stability, and has developed more confidence. Although Family Action’s work is by no means complete Ben says he feels more positive about his role as a carer and feels he can worry less about his parents.

If you’d like to find out more about the young carers services we provide visit our young carers area.