Rebecca's story

My name is Rebecca, and I am 19 years old. I am currently in my second year at the University of Aberdeen, studying Sociology. I care for my brother who is two years younger than me and my Mum. My brother has Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and chronic anxiety and depression. My mum had an accident when I was 11 years old that has left her with a chronic pain condition called CRPS.

I would say around eight years old is the age I started to care for my brother, before that I was too young to have the responsibility. I didn’t realise I was a young carer until my mum saw a notice for a local young carers support centre and got in contact with them for me, even as she did that, I was sure I wasn’t a young carer. It wasn’t until speaking to them I realised I was.

My main responsibilities in my caring role is mental health support for my brother, especially as I am now away from home so I can’t offer any of the physical support I usually do such as making sure my bother has eaten. I’m someone to talk to who won’t judge him. I’m the person he can unload on and say when his mental health is bad. Now that I’m away at university it doesn’t mean my caring role has stopped. I’m often calling or texting my brother to offer him support with his mental health. This can sometimes impact my sleep as his mental health is worse at night.

The support needed for young carers and young adult carers is vital at school and college/university level to allow them to achieve the best they can. By understanding that their time is often unpredictable, and they often will have distractions and giving allowances to them, for things such as deadlines, it will make academic situations better for young carers. It is also important that universities have support in place for student carers, someone to talk to when things are difficult that can help make the situation better on the academic side.

For the future and applying for jobs post-Uni I think it will be difficult to explain my caring role and how it impacts me as the role could totally change if something were to happen to any of my immediate family. I don’t know where my brother will be at in life in the future so it’s hard to plan ahead and decide what I want to do. And get excited about it as there’s always the chance of something happening that will totally change it or stop it from happening.