Did you know that there's 6.5 million carers across the UK (Carers Week, 2017), of which 700,000 of those are young?
I'm a 29-year-old mental health nursing student from the University of South Wales, and I've been the sole carer for my mother, who has terminal cancer and is now receiving palliative care at home.
I never make any secret of the fact that sometimes my day's work is the equivalent of somebody else's respite care, because it gives me a smattering of normality for a few hours a day. I do have to work all the hours I can to build up the business, while keeping a couple of days a week to help Julie, but this has meant we have had to put our house on the market and downsize.
According to statistics from Carers UK, there are currently around 6.5 million people the UK who are carers and this figure is destined to rise with the prediction that there will be an enormous 9 million people caring for others by 2037.
A Young Carer Isn't a Superhero, We Are Normal People Who Just Have to Do More Than Others Our Own Age
Having friends that understand what you are going through is important when you are a young carer, but I also think that it is crucial that other people across the country understand what carers do, so that all of the 'hidden' young carers out there are able to get the support they need.
It's a pivotal time for the care sector. As people live longer and require more support to live life to the full in old age, the shortfall in carers is expected to reach 718,000 by 2025. We need to rise to the challenges of our ageing population, but in order to do so, we need to challenge the frankly tired and out-dated perceptions of care.
Amongst the numbers, economic measures of contribution and technical policy analysis sometimes the stories and reasons behind policy can get lost. Policymakers - both elected and civil - should make sure they talk to people at the sharp end and heart of our care system, so that decisions are based on a full understanding of the realities for carers and their families.
You can rarely rely on time to deliver you events conveniently, can you? It's carers week this week so it would have been really useful if I could have blogged about the hospital appointment I have to go to with my wife and the amount of time we have had to wait for it...
After five years of caring for my wife it has been made clear to me that there fundamental problem in the way that social care is delivered in the UK. The system is geared toward supporting people only when they've reached a point of crisis.
Young carers already face barriers in accessing support: not seeking help for fear of family breakup is a common occurrence. No one should be made to feel ashamed to be a young carer, just as an unwell or disabled family member should never be made to feel guilty about their condition.