Lucy, aged 20, is a carer for her mum, who has schizoaffective disorder and non-epileptic attack disorder.

Lucy - young adult carer

As well as caring for her mum, Lucy works two jobs, is studying full-time for a degree in maths, and helps to look after her younger sister.

It's hard being a carer at Christmas

"I learnt to cook Christmas dinner when I was 12. I was cooking other things long before that – I could make tea and toast by the time I was 5.

"It's hard being a carer at Christmas as there is more for the carer to do – there's more stress.

Everything a parent would do for a child around Christmas is what a young carer is doing at Christmas…

"Getting presents for everybody, making sure all the food is in the house, making sure all the bills are paid (even though you’ve got to buy so many Christmas presents that you can't really afford it all anyway), and above all, making sure the person you care for has as little stress as possible over the holidays because you know it would have a negative effect on them."

Mam gets upset sometimes

"My sister knows the presents from my mam were actually bought and wrapped by me. She knows I was the one making sure my mam had enough money to actually buy it.

"There was one year my mam couldn't afford the one thing my sister wanted, so I ended up buying it for her out of my student loan money instead.

Sometimes my mam gets upset as she feels like she should be the responsible one as she's my mum.

"People say 'oh you must be so proud of what you've achieved' but it's just my life, I haven't had a choice. I just get on with it or it all goes to pot. I'd rather get on with it.”

I didn't realise I was a carer

Like many young carers, Lucy didn't realise she was a carer until a teacher pointed out to her that her responsibilities at home were above and beyond those of most people her age.

That's when I was introduced to the young carers service. It made such a difference to realise I was a carer, and that it was ok. I met people in the same position who understood."

Lucy puts the fact she managed to pass her A Levels and go to university against the odds down to the support her local carers service – and the resilience she's inherited from the 'strong and independent' women in her family:

"I'm one of those people that will move Heaven and Earth to get what I want – so I'll get it eventually."