Billie, 19, helped care for her siblings as a child. She looks back on visiting Honeypot and how caring has shaped her life…
I realised at a very young age that I was a young carer as I was born into being a carer, but particularly when I went to primary school I realised my home life wasn’t the normal life that my friends had.
My caring responsibilities were varied, due to having an older sister and a brother with highly complex needs being born when I was in year two. I helped with feed monitoring my baby brother right up until he was seven, as was fed by tube, and with my sister I completed personal care needs, such as supporting her with changing and eating. As I got older, my responsibilities obviously increased and I would often help my mum with getting them both out the house. My sister has limited movement and is unsteady, so I would normally support her or push the buggy while brother was little.
Honeypot gave me a place to escape to; a place to reflect on my family life and get the support of someone being there, especially when my brother was going through multiple surgeries. It gave me the space to grow and play and learn about myself. It also gave me the opportunity to put myself first.
I loved getting our certificates at the end of each visit highlighting something I had done well. I also enjoyed celebrating my birthday at Honeypot and having imaginary play with my two best mates that went with me. We used to love having the bedroom with four beds in as it had a sunflower at the end of the bed that we used to pretend was a webcam to chat to each other.
I am still a carer but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Caring has made me take an interest in my career path. I am currently working in special needs provision in a secondary class, doing what I love. Caring has given me the skills to take on a challenge and push me. It’s given me the ability to never give up and to fight for what I believe. I suppose if caring was never part of my life I wouldn’t be as patient or as empathetic as I feel I am.
To other young carers I would say: Take the time to reflect and think, even if it is just a couple of minutes a day. Collect your thoughts, accept how you feel as you will go through a lot – but it’s because you’re strong that you get through it. And never think you’re alone.
Honeypot is the national charity for young carers aged five to twelve. We do not receive government funding and rely on your donations to keep running respite breaks. Please consider supporting us by making a donation, attending an event, or making us your organisation’s charity partner.