A passion for caring

“You just have to get on with it.”

Young carers
Published on Tuesday 10 April 2012 09:06

Ian Hobin’s day is a million miles away from your average teenage boy.

To start with the 16-year-old is up at 6.30am every morning to help his younger brother get ready for school, take him to the gates and then get himself off to college.

During the day, he will ring home to speak to his mother to make sure everything is okay, then come back from college to carry out odd jobs around the house and look after his grandfather.

“It has always been that way, I cannot remember when I wasn’t doing it,” he says.

Sat alongside him, 15-year-old Amy Blundell and Hollie Johnstone, 14, nod their heads in agreement.

All three of them are young carers who have dedicated the early years of their lives to looking after members of their family, forgoing the simple pleasures many of us take for granted.

Ian says: “If my mates ask me to go out with them, I just say, ‘No, I have to go and look after my mum’ and they understand, they do not really ask me about it, I just get on with it.

“I only started college a year or so ago, so now I am only 10 minutes’ walk away from home, but when I was at school I was always sat there worrying about my mum and my brother.”

Amy, who is now in her crucial final year at school, adds: “It can be difficult to concentrate in class sometimes, school are good about it but I cannot help but worry about it.

“You just have to get on with it.”

The three are sat in the Preston Carers Centre, tucked in between the takeaways on Church Street in the city centre, where they come once a week to meet with other young carers.

But, their visit is not about sitting and being counselled about their problems – although there is always a supportive ear if they need one – it is simply about being ‘normal’.

Hollie, who has been looking after her mother for the last five years, says: “It is just a break, I come here and I do not have to explain to anyone what I do or why I do it, I can just be myself.

“I do not really have anyone to talk to (at home), so if I have a problem at home or at school, I know I can tell Dawn about it and she will help me.”

Dawn is one of the young carers’ support workers at the centre, run by a registered charity which relies on dwindling grant funding, and the generosity of the public to keep providing the services it does.

It helps carers of all ages, whether they simply require a phone number and some support or an intensive one-to-one session and emergency intervention.

Amy says: “It is a lot better when you can talk to people about anything, you do not have to explain why you are doing it – it is a relief.”

The dedication of young carers was thrown into the spotlight last week when the tale of Bella, a fictional young carer looking after her alcoholic mother, was one of the three short films screened as part of the Preston Passion to an audience of a million on BBC One on Good Friday.

Set in Preston, the story was titled Jesus and showed the sacrifice of a young girl to care for her family as part of the modern day re-telling of traditional Easter story.

It was Ian, Amy and Hollie who were the inspirations behind the tale after BBC writers came to the centre a year ago to research the story. Ian says: “I thought they were just going to take our stories and do nothing about it, then we heard it was going to be on television and we all thought, ‘That’s brilliant, someone’s listening’.”

To find out more about Preston Carers Centre, visit www.carerscentral.org.uk or telephone 01772 200173.


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