We have all at some point in our lives played a game of hide and seek, we loved to hide and loathed to seek. One thing that I have come to find when taking on the role of the seeker is that we begin searching in the most obvious of places for those that are hiding, the places that we ourselves would hide. Yet even though we have anticipated it, we are still surprised when we find somebody hiding in one of those obvious locations. It's just like the many young carers in the UK that are hidden in plain sight.
Many young carers do not associate themselves with the term "Young Carer" simply because they don't even associate themselves as being a carer full stop. Being a young carer myself I just thought that the care I gave to my loved one was purely an act of love and something that had to be done, it was nothing more than my domestic lifestyle. It is because of the lack of understanding of what a young carer truly is that many young carers up and down the UK are not receiving the help and support they need and truly deserve because they have not yet been identified.
One of the main reoccurring factors of being a young carer is isolation, not only verbally but also physically. On numerous occasions before I became involved with Carers Trust I found that I had nobody that I could speak to freely without being pitied or silently judged. Many young carers not only feel that they can't speak about their caring role but also find that they can't live a normal carefree life because of their (often restricting) caring responsibilities.
I find there is nothing in this world more frustrating than that of the person I like to call the "subject changer". We all have had the pleasure of speaking to one of these people who can't conceive the idea of having a difficult conversation on a subject that they severely lack knowledge on (and I will confess I have perhaps also been a subject changer once or twice in my life).
"I'm really struggling at home thanks for taking the time to listen to me"
"Yeah no bother... What do you think the weather will be like tomorrow?"
And there you have it, consider the subject matter changed. How can young carers in need of help be identified if they feel forced into silence because no one will listen to them? Thankfully young carers are beginning to be recognised more and more and their voices are beginning to be heard.
Carers Trust has been an incredible support, not only for me and my younger sibling but to many other young carers I have the great pleasure of knowing. It was completely foreign to me to be in an environment where everyone was in the same boat and completely understood and respected each other's strife and the tribulations that come with being a young carer. Since being referred to my local young carer's centre my life has completely changed. The help and support that is offered to me and my fellow young carers is second to none, and it is refreshing to be in an environment where I am respected and nurtured.
Isolation is still a daunting issue in the life of a young carer and it can be hard to find the light when you feel so lost in the dark. Carers Trust have just launched Babble, a website and online community specifically for young carers, so that they can talk to each other, share their feelings and get the sort of support that is so often lacking. Having an online support group such as Babble will help young carers to communicate freely, and hopefully never feel isolated again.
Being a young carer can be difficult, and at times lonely, but I can honestly say hand on heart that nothing makes me more proud than to say that I am a young carer.