We only have one shot at this life – Mum’s more important

Meet Honeypot Hero, Gemma. She’s a bright and bubbly 10-year-old girl who lives at home with her mum Julie.

Gemma (on the far left) at the Downing Street Carer’s Day celebration. 

Mum Julie suffers from mobility issues due to recurrent cellulitis which has led to necrotising fasciitis in the past.

Gemma was really excited to meet us, and couldn’t wait to show us her favourite toys.  It’s clear she’s very creative and imaginative. She showed us her bookshelf that she’s turned into a doll’s house, with furniture she created for the dolls out of DVD cases and Lego.

Then she shot up and showed us something she keeps in a special place in her room – a pink cuddly dog she got for her birthday from Honeypot.

Meeting Gemma, you would never know about the caring role she has at home. 

Gemma helps me with feeding, staying awake, making sure I drink enough water, and help walking to the bathroom.” Says Julie.

Gemma, grinning on the sofa, added; “I’m good at making tea, coffee and toast, but not so good at hoovering.”

At its worst Julie is bedbound, has strong fevers, loses her appetite, and sometimes has to go to the hospital. “In an ideal world I’d be taking care of her 24/7, not the other way around,” she says.

As we are talking, Gemma keeps getting up to hug her mum. The strong bond between them is clear.

Julie and Gemma at home. 

The last really bad incident was in April. Gemma remembers when her mum got ill, and had to call the young carers centre for help, who dialled 999.

“I struggle finding childcare when I’m in hospital,” says Julie. There’s zero warning for these things happening. Additional help from the family is limited, and Julie’s had to experience people, including friends, tell her she’s lying about her disability.

Gemma stepped up to help her Mum.  All she has ever known is her mum being ill. Julie has to remind her: “I tell her to go and play.”

Because of Honeypot, Gemma can go on holiday and have a break from her caring responsibilities.

I got to go swimming, and meet new people… when you go in the water it’s nice and relaxing.”

“I went on a zipline too!”

Gemma who is going into Year 7 next year, puts her mum above all else:

We only have one shot at this life – Mum’s more important.”

Together, Gemma and Julie want to help raise awareness for young carers. The first time they heard the term ‘young carer’ was when Gemma was identified as one.