Teen carer launches petition for more help

PUBLISHED: 16:14 21 August 2011

Young carer Kirstie Pope (18) has collected signatures for a petition to get more help for young carers during exam time.

Young carer Kirstie Pope (18) has collected signatures for a petition to get more help for young carers during exam time.

Daniel Wilson

AN 18-year-old carer who struggled through her A-levels has launched a campaign for more support for other teenagers facing the same problem.

A day in Kirstie’s life

Most mornings I wake up around 7am, then I go downstairs and clean up the living and the kitchen from the day before.

By this time it’s about 8am and time to make my mum’s breakfast.

After I have taken that up to her I do the washing up.

There are always things that need to be done in between making the breakfast and preparing lunch.

Most days the laundry needs to be done or the house needs vacuuming.

At midday I start to make the lunch, which normally takes anything up to an hour, but I like cooking, so this I don’t mind doing!

Of course after I have cooked the meal there is washing up to be done and the kitchen floor probably needs to be swept again.

Throughout the day I make many cups of coffee and make sure the dog gets some time in the fresh air.

There is normally time before making the dinner when I check my e-mails and perhaps get to watch a little TV.

At around 4pm I make a start on the dinner, which also takes about one hour, then there is the washing up and cleaning which needs to be done again.

The evenings are less busy. I make sure I spend as much time as possible with mum and keep her smiling – it’s not only the physical tasks which are demanding, the emotional tasks can be just as draining.

Of course going to bed at 10 or 11pm, doesn’t mean that I’ll get to sleep all night!

Thoughts seem to go round and round your head at night, all of the ‘what ifs?’ and the planning for the next day.

But obviously during the holidays things are a lot easier, because I don’t have any coursework or homework to worry about and I am at home all the time, so there’s no need to worry about what needs to be done when I get home.

Kirstie Pope, of Melbourn, has just finished her exams at Hills Road Sixth Form but worries caring commitments to her mother may have harmed her university chances.

After her experiences, and talking to other young carers online, Kirstie wants more support for teens dealing with the same issues – who are too old for a young carers group and too young for an adult carers organisation.

She said: “There isn’t anything so I’m asking for support to be there during A-levels so we can do revision, so we can do housework and home work at the same time.

“When you hit 18 it’s all gone, the closest thing is in Cambridge and that’s still quite far away.”

Kirstie lives in Maple Way with her mother, who suffers from depression, and has been caring for her for three years.

The teenager hopes to study French and Spanish at Manchester University and eventually get into teaching. However she is concerned she may not make the cut and thinks there are many others in Crow Country with the same issue.

“Obviously I can’t go to Cambridge because it’s too hard to get in to. I wanted somewhere nearer but it’s not possible,” she said.

“It was hard going to school and finding time and not having anyone to talk to about it or say why I wasn’t at school and basically homework.”

As well as school work proving difficult, Kirstie says it’s near impossible to live the normal teenage life – with nights out, parties and sleepovers near impossible to slot in.

“I don’t generally go out, sometimes my friends go out and I feel like I can’t go and it’s hard explaining to them I’m doing this.

“Most people don’t really know I’m caring and I haven’t spoke to most of my friends about it. I think there must be other people at school in the same situation and we never find out.”

Kirstie hopes to meet health secretary Andrew Lansley and her MP to discuss her problems and has started a campaign to help raise awareness and judge public feeling on helping young carers.

Cambridgeshire County Council is responsible for helping young carers in Melbourn and says there are a number of avenues of support for teens facing caring troubles.

A spokesman for the authority recommended young carers project Centre 33, based in Cambridge and supported by the council, which meets fortnightly in the city.

“There is a young carer project, Centre 33 and people can contact them or contact our carer support team,” he said.

“There is support out there like Centre 33 or if they contact us we will carry out an assessment and help where we can.”

To sign Kirstie’s petition log on to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ycihe/

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