Don’t be afraid of asking for help

Don’t be afraid of asking for help – carer mum, Joyce

‘Help is there’ … Joyce Butters with her son, Paul.

Published on Tuesday 10 April 2012 12:30

UP until Paul Butters started school, his parents had no idea he was suffering from a learning disability due to a lack of oxygen at birth.

But after his diagnosis, Joyce became not just his mum but also his full-time carer.

Two of her three children have now left home, but at 42 Paul is still at the forefront of his mum’s mind.

“Everything I do I have to take Paul and his needs into consideration,” she said.

“Whenever we are going out I have to depend on the family for support. It is a lot of hard work as he does have his mood swings when things aren’t going his way. But it is also very rewarding.

“As we are both getting older it is getting harder, but I do have a lot of support and there is a lot more help around now than when he was little.”

As a youngster, Paul attended Oakleigh Gardens Special School, in Cleadon, before moving on to an adult day centre in West Walpole Street, South Shields.

He is now an active member of the community garden based within Holder House Allotments in Whiteleas.

The project, run by Chris Convery, offers a variety of users – including people with learning and physical disabilities, the elderly and local schools – the chance to learn about horticulture, helping to boost their confidence and gardening skills.

Joyce said: “Paul loves visiting the garden and it also helps to give me time for myself.

“When he was younger, I took on a part-time job as a bar assistant during the day so I had something to do.

“Paul doesn’t go into respite and if we go on holiday then Paul comes with us. But it’s nice to know that help is there if it’s needed.

“I think some people are afraid to ask for help, but it’s so important if you are a carer to not be afraid to ask – that’s what its there for. Carers also need to remember to take time out and look after themselves, as everyone needs a break sometimes.

“I feel lucky as I know there are a lot more people who are carers for those with a lot more complex needs than Paul.”

Joyce is also the chairwoman of the South Tyneside carers’ strategy group set up to try to help as many carers as possible.

“When Paul was diagnosed as having learning difficulties we never had a social worker.

“If there was something I needed, I would ask the health visitor or my doctor, or I would find out things by talking to other parents.

“But there is so much help out there now, and hopefully events like the carers’, event will show people it’s OK to ask for help if you need it.

“I’ve found a lot of older carers are worried to ask for help as they are frightened people will think they can’t cope.

“There are also young people who are carers, and they also need to know there is help out there for them too.

“There is a lot more help out there, and more people to ask for help, than when Paul was younger.

“I would encourage anyone who is struggling not to be scared to seek help.