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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Cumbrian boy, 12, has cared for mum since he was two

Only child Garry has been the man of the house since his father died when he was just two years old.

Dawn Kenyon photo
Dawn Kenyon

His mother has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.

Garry, now 12, has been looking after her for 10 years.

He is a big help to his mum at home, helping with cooking and cleaning and going to the corner shop for provisions when she is having a particularly bad day and can’t get out of the house.

When Garry was first referred to West Cumbria Young Carers Project, his mum was very upset. She was desperate for Garry to be able to be a child and not to have to do everything he takes on at home.

Garry now gets involved with trips and activities when he can and sees those as a lifeline for him when things get tough.

Jessica is 11 years old and a young carer for her mum who has a mental health condition.

She constantly worries about her mother when she is at school because she was once taken into hospital while Jessica was at school.

When Jessica’s mum is having a bad day, she helps with the housework. Jessica is very close to her mother and when she talks about her it is obvious how much she loves her.

Jessica’s mum tries to shield her as much as possible but she knows that her little girl still worries about her.

When Jessica first joined the young carers project she was very shy and didn’t like to mix with the other children. Two years later she is a regular at the groups, goes on trips and has made lots of new friends.

Doug is eight years old and was referred to the voluntary young carers project by his parents, who worry about him.

Doug’s sister is autistic and has very high levels of learning and behavioural difficulties. His parents say Doug has been helping to care for his sister since he was very little. He is a wonderfully behaved and deeply caring little boy and although only young has a very good understanding of his sister’s disability.

Doug has to be very patient at home because often his sister’s behaviour is volatile and his parents have to deal with that. Doug’s parents want him to be able to have a break from his caring role and be able to mix with other children in a stress-free environment.

  • They are children on whom their families rely for life’s basics – medication, bathing, dressing, cooking, cleaning, shopping. They fit school in where they can.

The youngest known to voluntary Cumbrian carers support groups is four-and-a-half years old – a little girl who is the main carer for her epileptic mum. The average age of children in charge is 12.

“There are many very difficult issues surrounding all aspects of care in any age group,” said Dawn Kenyon, of the charity Carlisle Carers.

“But children who care really tug at the heartstrings. They have no idea how special they are; realise only slowly what they might be missing by taking on so much. And they do miss a great deal.

“We do what we can to help them meet and enjoy the company of other children. But we’re a voluntary group relying on donations and can’t afford much by way of day trips and social events for them – although they mean such a lot to the kids.”

The News & Star Give Them A Break campaign aims to raise around £20,000 to fund days out and short breaks for hundreds of young children.

Please help us help these boys and girls.

Send a cheque to Eden Carers at The Office, Mardale Road, Penrith, CA11 9EH or to Anne Pickles at Cumbrian Newspapers, Newspaper House, Dalston Road, Carlisle, CA2 5UA.

To donate online, go to www.everyclick.com/edencarers.

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