Aiden, Max, Morgana, Aura and Miles are not only school students but also young carers. They have all been receiving various support through recent years and last week attended and took part in the Gloucestershire Young Carers’ “Twilight” conference (an annual event) on Monday, 27th February. Mr Burton invited them to meet together and discuss their experience at the conference.
The conference involves a lot of various talks, workshops and activities bringing in big numbers of young carers and professionals within the county. Morgana was involved in the sibling’s workshop, something that was quite personal to her as she explained that she helps care for her younger sister. As part of the workshop they were trying to give a visual representation of how being a young carer can affect your well-being and emotions. To do this, they used a combination of helium balloons to represent the feeling of elation and happiness, and then heavy bags which symbolised how the pressure of being a young carer can weigh you down and bring down your emotions. Aiden presented in front of a large amount of professionals including council members, social workers, mental health services, child services and also doctors. Aiden has attended every Twilight conference to date and is actively working with the Young Carers charity. Max spoke on the topic of how it can affect the relationship between the parent and the child, hindering daily activities such as being able to go for a ‘day out’ together which most take for granted.
Mr Burton expressed his gratitude to the students for meeting with him and being able to talk about their experience so openly. He concurred “The feedback we had about you from the Young Carers group and the professionals you spoke in front of was superb. They said that the way you articulated yourselves and put across your statements to them was well beyond your age and really professionally done.” When asked, Aura also commented how the school have “really recognized the achievements we’ve made from this.”
Miles was unavailable to meet with us today, however we did catch up with him last week after he went through his interview with BBC Radio Gloucestershire. He very kindly agreed to talk to us about his experiences more personally.
Alongside his busy school life, and with his GCSEs on the horizon too, Miles has also been caring for his mother who suffers with a mental illness and chronic pain: something he has recently been able to speak out on more confidently. After receiving overwhelming support as a whole family and also 1:1 therapist sessions, he has now come out of that and has been working with the Young Carers group charity in Gloucestershire for the past year. Miles supports his mother both emotionally and physically and generally considers it full-time, as he explained “it’s always on my mind and I’m not always free; I know I have to be aware of it and make sure I’m there for her.”
He, along with Aura, Aiden, Max and Morgana, also attended the Twilight conference last Monday, where he spoke in front of over 90 professionals about his story and incredibly handled a lot of on-the-spot questions about it all. Miles told us “It was a very different environment for me but I felt it was very important that I spoke about my experiences as it gives them a completely different, and new, angle on the life of a Young Carer; they are seeing it from a spectator’s perspective rather than first-hand. I knew it would benefit other people by sharing my story and how I am coping with it.” He also commented that he feels more people should feel confident to express their feelings in situations like this and get the support they need, something he initially didn’t do; he has been receiving 1:1 support since. When asked how he felt after attending the conference, he was “very proud of himself for doing it” after explaining how he used to find social situations quite difficult.
Despite being aware that his life was different to his peers at a young age, Miles didn’t realise his responsibilities until he started secondary school after he had been through some difficult times during his primary school days surrounding anger issues. He explained that working with the Young Carers group and the support he has received from various people has made him a “much calmer and happier person,” helping him to feel more comfortable in his situation and knowing he isn’t alone in his circumstances has taken the pressure off.
Miles is keen to pursue the arts for his future but is also considering the possibility of becoming a therapist in light of his experiences, though at present he wants to “keep his options open.” Miles is, in his own words, “feeling very content and enjoying life” and is enjoying school and his GCSE options.