Ania's (15) Story – Young Carer started boarding 2014
Ania wrote: “In my honest opinion I would conclude that being a young carer is like a roller-coaster. Sometimes I feel great, really good about myself and helping out my mum, that is when the roller-coaster is high. Other times I feel low, not so great because perhaps mum is having a bad day and is sick in bed. On these days, although I do try and help I feel like it doesn't make a difference. My mum is still in pain and I feel helpless. These are the days that the roller-coaster is low.
There are a lot more responsibilities that come along with being a young carer, more things to worry about and often I feel like I'm forced to grow up more than happily living through my age. When I see other families and stay with them for a few days I realise how different it is to mine. When I was younger I didn't understand as much, but now I'm older I feel frustrated and sometimes lonely. It used to seem like my family were the only ones where my sister and I helped care for my mum. It made me angry but nowhere for my anger to be directed. Nobody is to blame since it's nobody's fault that my mum is ill. I used to think that perhaps it was me since the timing of my birth was when my mum got a lot of health problems.
These feelings all contribute for reasons why I love boarding school so much. It gives me the opportunity to really excel and try my hardest at school without any distractions. To try out new things and find fun hobbies. I really enjoy learning and I know that education is very important so being funded for this is amazing. I'm not as stressed and anxious about my mum's health anymore because I remember walking to my old school and every time an ambulance drove past my heart skipping a beat. Boarding hadn't been an option before but since my mum went into hospital on my third day of school it became something that we actually considered.
In September 2014 we really needed help and I am so grateful that someone reached out and helped us. Boarding school has given me lots of more opportunities and I've built strong friendships with other boarders in my house. It makes me happy to know that whilst I am away my mum can concentrate on making herself better and stronger and neither of us have to worry so much anymore!
Zainab's Story (Mother of Ania)
Zainab is a teacher by profession. She has suffered deteriorating ill-health since her daughter Ania was born 14 years ago. She has been unable to work for a number of years. She retrained as a counsellor a few years ago as she was desperate to work but knew she could no longer do anything as physically active as being a teacher. However, although she qualified she was not able to practice as her health deteriorated even further.
Zainab says: “I had to apply to send my daughter to boarding school last year, when my health severely deteriorated. I could no longer cook meals for myself much less for my child. Having my daughter in boarding school has meant that I no longer need to worry about whether I have the energy to cook her nutritious meals on a daily basis. This may seem like a trivial matter to some, but as a disabled parent it is very frustrating when you are unable to cook for your child. I now am rest assured that my child has access to a balanced meal three times a day. This is such a relief to me.
Furthermore I struggled to ensure her uniform was cleaned in time for a new school week, however in boarding school, her washing is done for her. Again this is such a relief to me as previously when I had a bad week health wise, I was often unable to ensure her clothes were clean in time. This created anxiety for me and my daughter as we would both worry about getting her clothes cleaned in time. Also there was the additional worry for my daughter who was concerned that friends would notice if her uniform wasn't cleaned or ironed.
Moreover, on a practical day to day level boarding school has shielded my daughter from the daily worry of my health. I often spend large parts of the day in bed in pain, this is very worrying for children to experience. I believe it is very hard for them to switch off the concerns at home and concentrate on school work. I know my daughter often worried about me in school and wondered what state I would be in upon her return. However now that she is in boarding school, the day to day concerns about my health are no longer impacting upon her learning. One of my big concerns was that my children's education would be severely affected by my health. Either through me not being able to sit and help with the homework or that during school they were distracted with worry. Again boarding school has helped to redress that balance and I believe my daughter has an equal chance of succeeding. Indeed she has thrived emotionally and educationally, and for that I am truly grateful.
In conclusion, boarding school has levelled the playing field for my daughter, in that she no longer has the daily stress and worry associated with my health and the daily additional chores: cooking and tidying. She now has similar opportunities to children who are not young carers."
Ania's school report that she is now making above the expected progress in most of her subjects and her attendance is high at 99.5%.