Teen carer launches petition for more help

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.

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.

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“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/