Being a carer can make children feel very proud and special, but it is often at a cost to their own wellbeing.

Eight-year-old Phoebe lives with her mum and her grandad who has type 2 diabetes and impaired mobility. Her Mum suffers from PTSD and has nerve damage in her hand. Phoebe helps to care for them both.

Caring for her grandad makes Phoebe feel very proud and special. But being a young carer makes it difficult to socialise with other children and invite friends home.  Now Covid-19 has made socialising almost impossible as her grandfather is in a high-risk group. When school was disrupted in the spring life became very lonely for Phoebe. Already isolated, she became withdrawn and unhappy.  She had lots of questions and worries but didn’t know who she could talk to.

Just before the school term ended, her teachers referred Phoebe to the Young Carers’ team at CSM so she could receive our support and have the companionship of other young carers over the long summer holiday.

Phoebe’s mum worries about her daughter. She is also cautious about who Phoebe has contact with, so it was very important that we gained her trust and confidence to let us work with Phoebe and allow her to participate in activities with other young carers.

The fact that all our activities were delivered remotely this summer gave Phoebe’s mother the added reassurance of knowing where Phoebe was and who she was with. Mother and daughter could both relax.

“It was lovely to see the old Phoebe…[she] loved feeling part of the young carers and really connected with them”

During the workshops Phoebe’s mood lifted visibly. She met other young carers and felt part of a group. She gained much needed respite from her caring role for several hours over several days. She had fun with other children and took part in new activities and her confidence soared. Her mum also benefited from knowing how much Phoebe was enjoying the experience.

“The feedback from the course leaders was so lovely to hear, it made me cry. Considering she hasn’t done anything like that before and with everything going on, I’m so pleased. She liked the staff and the children and is really looking forward to the activity today.”

Building on her relationship with CSM established over the summer, when the new school term starts Phoebe will have 1to1 sessions to talk about her caring role and the impact it has on her. Her mum will also be able to receive support from the adult team caring for her elderly father.

CSM provides young carers with a safe space to talk about their caring role with people who understand what they are going through and share their worries. At CSM, young carers can also take time off from their caring responsibilities and relax with other young people in a similar situation. During lockdown when face to face activities were not possible, we continued our programme of events over Zoom.