Been a carer since she was ten years old

It can be difficult and frustrating that carers’ work goes unnoticed

Since she was just ten years old, much of her life has been taken up with caring for her disabled mother, but Tasha Turnbull says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

The 17-year-old student admits that now, as she gets older and her caring responsibilities infringe on her social life – and potentially on her opportunity to go to university – she can sometimes feel frustrated about being tied down to caring for her mum Cheryl.

But she adds that she “wouldn’t want a complete stranger caring for her” in her place.

“At the end of the day, she’s my mum, and it’s important that she feels happy with who is looking after her,” the Hartcliffe teenager says.

Tasha’s mother Cheryl, 50, first became disabled when Tasha was ten years old – her condition started as debilitating sciatica, which later combined with a painful cyst on the spine and a condition called “lower foot drop”, to leave Cheryl reliant on a wheelchair to get about, and her daughter’s help to care for herself at home.

Tasha and Cheryl live as a two-person household, and the 17-year-old feels she is responsible for everything from taking her mum to the toilet, getting her in and out of bed and dressing her – as well as taking responsibility for all the normal domestic chores, from cooking to doing the washing.

“It is difficult,” Tashsa says. “And it’s frustrating because I think all too often the work that carers do in their own homes goes largely unnoticed.

“Now as I’m getting older, it really stops me going out and living a normal teenager’s social life. I have to plan ahead if I’m going to go out with friends.”

Tasha is studying on a vocational course in health and social care at Ashton Park Sixth Form College – she hopes to work with children.

“I’ve not really thought about university yet,” she says. “I’m trying not to think too much about it because I would really like to go, but I can’t imagine how I will be able to do it.

“Even if I stay in Bristol to study for higher education, I think it would be a struggle. I already find it difficult to complete my coursework at college, given the additional responsibilities I have at home.”

Tasha receives some support from the Bristol-based Carers’ Support Centre, which runs a special Youth Carers’ club, where Tasha gets to meet other young people who care for a family member.

“It helps,” she says. “I get to meet people, and it makes me feel that I’m not the only one doing this.”


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