Charlotte's story | Young adult carer celebrates Civil Service job
One young adult carer is celebrating after beginning a Civil Service job thanks to a partnership with Carers Trust.
Charlotte Cook, 18, from Merseyside, has been helping her mum for as long as she can remember. Her mum, 54, has a severely deformed spine and neck, leaving her with considerable pain, tiredness, and neurological problems.
Charlotte has always helped around the house and does her mum’s shopping alongside supporting her with everything she needs. These responsibilities have increased over the past five years as her brother went to university and her dad regularly worked away.
In 2021 she found out about Sefton Carers Centre and the support it offered young and young adult carers. Staff there helped her to focus on her future and introduced Charlotte to her chosen university’s widening participation team, helping put in place support to increase her chances of a successful application.
After finishing her A-levels in biology, chemistry and art, Charlotte was hoping to qualify as a dental therapist at university, only to have her offer deferred due to a backlog caused by the pandemic. However, her situation changed when she was contacted by Sefton Young Carers about a role at the Department of Work and Pensions in their customer services team.
The job was offered through the Going Forward into Employment scheme, which recruits people from a wide range of backgrounds into the Civil Service. The scheme has seen the Civil Service partner with Carers Trust’s Young Carers Futures programme to recruit young adult and adult carers into roles across various government departments.
The scheme provides support to carers to re-enter the workplace if caring roles have impacted people’s progress in their education or career. Carers are also offered flexibility, an internal carers network and a buddy system to help them transition into their new roles. Six young adult carers have been offered jobs within the Civil Service through the partnership so far.
Charlotte, who had previously worked at a café and volunteered at her local swimming club, said she “honestly didn’t know” if she would be a strong candidate for the role. However, after an encouraging interview, she landed the job.
She said: “I thought that I would have really struggled but the team have been so encouraging and have trained me quickly. I enjoy going to work.
“My confidence has increased dramatically due to my supportive team. I also feel like I am making a difference when dealing with my cases.”
Charlotte intends to complete the 12-month contract and then take up her place at the University of Liverpool to study Dental Therapy.
She advised other young carers thinking about applying for jobs through the partnership not to hesitate, urging them: “Don’t be scared. I felt like I was underqualified and lacking experience, and this was because I was. However, here I am after only being at the job for six weeks, and I feel like I am getting the hang of it. This is purely because I have had the support that I needed from my team. The people who are hiring you will know the situation you are in and will hopefully provide you with the support you need to succeed at the role you have.”
And she said of Sefton Carers Centre: “They have opened doors for me and without them I wouldn’t be going down the path I am today. I do not believe I would be as confident and happy as I am without their help.”
During her time in the job, Sefton Carers Centre and its young adult carers support service remain in touch with Charlotte. The service aims to support all young carers with the challenges and changes that happen during their journey into adulthood.
Andrew Deacon, Young Carers and Young Carers in Transitions Lead at Sefton Carers Centre, said: “Charlotte’s success in achieving her ambition to find meaningful employment and pursue further study can only really be credited to her. Whilst we have played a small role in opening doors for Charlotte, it is her resilience and perseverance that have got her to where she is. We hope that Charlotte’s story will demonstrate to young carers everywhere that being a caregiver does not mean that aspirations must be put aside.”
Her mum added: “Sefton Carers Centre’s support has dramatically affected the course of Charlotte’s academic and working life together with boosting her confidence as a young carer. We cannot thank them enough.”