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Young Carers Action Day series: Meet Kiesha, Youth Support Worker & Trustee

Fair Futures for Young Carers

 

This year Young Carers Action Day takes place under the theme of ‘Fair Futures for Young Carers’. But what does that really mean if you’re a young carer? We travelled to Harrow to meet four young adult carers to find out. They’re all on the path to their dream future now. But only after they got the right support at the right time to help them juggle the pressures of their caring role with getting their foot on the career ladder.

This is Kiesha’s story

Most adults would buckle under the weight of responsibility on Kiesha’s shoulders. At just 19, she is the primary carer for her mum, nan and two brothers – who all live with a variety of physical and mental health conditions. She cares for them alone, with no other form of support.

When she’s not looking after her family and travelling between their separate homes, Kiesha works part-time at Harrow Young Carers. She was in her second year of college, but her caring responsibilities became so all-consuming that she had to drop out.

“They didn’t understand that unfortunately, my caring roles have to come first. As much as I want to be in college, I don’t really have a choice. I need to be at home making sure everyone’s okay, because if I’m not there, they don’t really have anyone else,” she said.

The concept of being a young carer was seemingly new to some of her teachers.

“They just weren’t understanding at all. In my first year, I told my tutor I was a carer and she had no idea what that meant,” she said. “So I thought, if my tutor doesn’t know, then how can I expect anyone else in the college to understand? So I just didn’t tell anyone at my college I was a carer and kind of gave up on them.”

And this lack of support and understanding was not reflective of Kiesha’s experience back in secondary school. There, a dedicated member of staff would seek out young carers across the school and organise fortnightly meet-ups, which Kiesha found really helpful. “The main thing was knowing you’re not alone, it’s not only you,” she said. Transitioning from secondary school was therefore incredibly tough for Kiesha, when she realised that this support would not extend into her college years.

But for several years one place she has always felt understood is Harrow Young Carers, who are supporting her to gain work experience and job opportunities. With their support, she has been able to apply for a range of roles such as a TFL apprenticeship and been invited to join their Board of Trustees.

“I still want to learn,” she said. “I just couldn’t do it in that environment where no one understood that I’m a carer.”

With this year’s Young Carers Action Day theme in mind, we asked Kiesha, what does ‘Fair Futures for Young Carers’ mean to you?

She said, “When you have the term ‘carer’ attached to you, a lot of people instantly think ‘unreliable’ and ‘preoccupied’. Even though we are carers, we have skills, it’s just about allowing us to prove ourselves and give us an opportunity. The skills we have as carers stay with us long-term. We are very skilful, and are so from a very young age. It’s about being given a chance.” 

 

Find out more about Young Carers Action Day and this year’s theme of ‘Fair Futures for Young Carers’ here.

Image credit: Halena Hucker 

 

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