What issues affect children and young people today? On our blog, our volunteers, staff, leaders and the young people we work with share their experiences and tackle the issues. Let us know what you think – leave a comment or send us a message about what you find on our blog.
Abby writes the soundtrack of her life
I began writing songs when I was 11 years old. Writing songs gave me a way to say the things I couldn’t say in my everyday life. I found that writing it down in a song helped me process those things.
I’ve always said that listening to my songs is a bit like reading my diary and I think that’s still the case. I wrote Shy To Be Human about a part of my life that I have both struggled with and have been blessed by. I hoped that it would inspire other people like me.
I have grown up caring for my mum who has a wide range of conditions that make her unable to do normal everyday things, like making tea, going out to the shops and even walking up stairs is often hard.
It definitely hasn’t been easy for any of us as a family because we missed out on things that our friends had, just because our mum was ill. This meant that I had a lot of anger and sadness towards my situation, but music helped me to deal with those feelings.
My song Shy To Be Human is about being a young carer and the emotions that come with this role. I was so happy when the organisers of the national Young Carers festival asked to make my song the official song for the festival.
Performing at the festival was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I really hope that my song has been able to inspire everyone who heard it.
Playing my song
I first got involved with The Children’s Society and Young Carers in Focus, funded by Big Lottery, when I was given the opportunity to perform at the festival. Through this I was then asked to be an ambassador for the Young Carers in Focus project, which was launched at the festival last year.
Young Carers in Focus, funded by Big Lottery and led by The Children’s Society working with four other charities, is such a great project because it enables us, as young carers, to build a community together, raise awareness and to really make a difference in the lives of other young people like us.
It’s so important to have support when you have to grow up in such difficult circumstances. I didn’t even realise I was a young carer until I was 15, so I know just how valuable it would have been to have had this kind of support when I was young and trying to figure everything out on my own and really struggling.
I’m so passionate about seeing young carers break free of the burdens they carry and really go for their dreams. Although caring for my mum has had its obvious down sides, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t follow my dreams too. My parents are both so supportive of me and through them, and other support workers, I was given the confidence to go after the massive dreams I have.
I am currently at university studying commercial music. Things are still not easy, because moving away from home has its own worries. I’m not there to make sure mum and everyone are ok, but I am so unbelievably grateful to be here. This first year of university has honestly been the best year of my life. I feel like I’m finally finding out who I am and who I want to be.
Pursuing my singing dream
Without the help of people like those I’ve worked with at The Children’s Society, I wouldn’t have felt able to leave home and pursue a dream of mine that I hope to make a future career.
Music is so much more than a hobby or a career choice. It means so much more to me than just getting up on a stage and singing songs I’ve written.
I want to make a difference in other people’s lives through my music. I want other people to experience the joy and the breath of fresh air music can bring.
My big dream is to break into the music industry as a solo artist, through this I hope to inspire people and to help change lives for the better. The Children’s Society has helped me get closer to this goal by supporting me in my music and allowing me to be a part of the amazing work they are doing with young carers across the country.
- Abby Irwin
Learn more about Abby's music at her website.
Young Carers in Focus
Young Carers in Focus (YCiF) aims to give young carers a voice so they can share their experiences and improve public understanding about the issues they face.
More than 200 children are being recruited as ‘champions’ to help raise awareness. Messages from YCiF will reach 450,000 young people, in over 9000 schools, over four years, through the Makewav.es site.
Led by The Children’s Society, the Young Carers in Focus programme brings partners together from YMCA Fairthorne Manor, DigitalMe, Rethink Mental Illness and The Fatherhood Institute. The four-year programme, running until 2016, is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
The YCIF partnership is calling for barriers to good practice to be removed to ensure agencies work effectively together to support the whole family. This would improve children’s lives and reduce costs in the long term.
See what young carers have to say, or join in - visit Young Carers in Focus.