The sun might be shining outside as you read this. Perhaps you’re planning your summer holiday, or maybe you’ve just returned from one.
Sadly, for most unpaid carers in the UK, enjoying the warmer weather – or better still, going away and taking a break from their caring role - is simply not an option.
Caring can be a hugely rewarding experience, but it can also be stressful and physically and emotionally exhausting. Without the right support, a carer’s own health and wellbeing can suffer, leaving them unable to look after themselves, let alone the person they care for.
Oliver is 23 years old and cares for both his parents who have complex physical and mental health disabilities. He helps with personal care and hygiene, ensures they take their medication, prepares all the meals, and generally manages the household.
Oliver is just one of at least 376,000 young adult carers in the UK (those aged between 18-24) trying to manage responsibilities such as these. It may not come as a surprise to you to learn that 30 per cent drop out of higher education due to their caring role.
Oliver’s dad’s health started to deteriorate when he was studying for his A-Levels. It was at this point that Oliver began to struggle with his own mental health, and this led to him failing his exams.
Young adult carers often put their own lives on hold to care for a loved one, but Carers Trust encouraged Oliver to think about his own future. His counsellor helped him to focus upon what he wanted to achieve – qualifications. He returned to college, determined, and completed his course with a triple distinction!
Carers Trust could see just how much potential he had, and encouraged Oliver to apply for university. His support worker ensured he received cognitive therapy to manage his depression and anxiety, and this helped him cope with his studies. Oliver graduated with a first-class honours degree and found a job shortly afterwards. Without Carers Trust, life could have turned out very differently for him. He told us:
I am lucky. Without this I wouldn’t be here, in the position I am today .”
Oliver is now a volunteer Carers Ambassador, using his own experiences to encourage other young adult carers to access the support they need to live their own lives and focus upon the future.
* Oliver’s story is true, but his name has been changed to protect his identity. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com.