Hannah is 22 years old and cares for her Grandad and mother. Hannah shares her experience about being identified as a carer and having a duel caring role.
"The fact that I am a carer for my grandparents, this type of caring role often gets overlooked, and also the impact of caring whilst I was at university.
Caring for my grandparents, it was harder to identify me as a carer because often it was assumed that my mum was the main carer, yes my mum does care for my grandparents but the level of care that they needed was so great that we were in it together. I was still required to provide physical and emotional support on a regular basis. This was also added to as at times my mum also struggled with her own depression, this meant I was often caring for 3 people.
Looking after grandparents was very emotionally challenging, a lot of their health problems, were only ever going to deteriorate. I often felt trapped in the house because there were three people depending on me.
My mum was identified as a carer before I was, ironically it was because I spoke to the GP and told them how much I was really struggling, physically and mentally. They picked up on the caring situation and spoke to my mum about getting her some help, this was really useful and it worked because we both have the same GP but it still took a little while before I was able to access support as a young carer.
This brings me on to the issues I faced in education. Caring was really challenging during the time that I was sitting my A-levels. I had to repeat a year and I changed 6th forms, the school I had been going to didn’t have the right procedures in place to support young adult carers, I had shared information about my situation but they had a high turnover of staff and I had to keep repeating things over and over, they didn’t have the right structure in place to support carers effectively and record the information that I was sharing so that I didn’t have to keep repeating and reliving challenging situations.
The new college were better, I had the regular contact that I needed and the support and encouragement from a teacher that made all the difference to me. This helped me to see university as an opportunity, I was encouraged to go to a university that had the right course for me, the subject that I was really passionate about studying.
As we started to get more support in place for both my mum and for me and with the extra encouragement I was able to apply to study Environmental Conservation at Bangor University.
Bangor University were incredible in their support. They listened and they helped to put support in place to meet my individual needs as a carer.
Don’t make assumptions, anyone can be a carer. For a long time it was assumed that I didn’t want to try at school, that I was late because I couldn’t be bothered. In reality all I needed was for professionals to recognise my situation and help me to realise that I was a young carer.
Because I was recognised as a carer I am happy to say that I graduated with honours this year. I am now taking a year out, caring for my Grandad full time as his health has got much worse but I hope to go back to university next year to complete my masters. I’m happy to say my own health is now also so much better.
Being a carer has often felt like starting a race when everyone else has a five second head start and I am trying to catch up but I have a huge weight pulling me back. I don’t think I would have made it through my degree if my mum and I hadn’t both been recognised as carers and given the help and support that we both needed."