Caring at Christmas
Christmas is going to look different for many this year. Although we may not be able to see family, most of us are looking forward to some sort of break. But for many young carers, it's rarely a chance to put the feet up and watch telly.
We spoke to two young carers to understand what Christmas is really like for them.
Christmas for young carers
Just another day
For many children Christmas spells a break from school and a chance to have fun with friends and family. But hundreds of thousands of young carers will be at home cooking, cleaning and looking after loved ones.
Their caring role doesn’t stop just because it’s Christmas. In fact, many take on added responsibilities such as buying presents and cooking Christmas dinner.
Christmas is just another day
Jasmin, a 17-year-old young carer, says ‘for young carers, there isn't such thing as Christmas - it’s just another day. Having to cook a full Christmas meal at such a young age is a daunting thought.’
Jasmin admits 'I’m not a Christmas person at all... a lot of my experiences are due to coming from a low socioeconomic background and I was never the kid who got presents from Santa when I was young.’
A break from school
On the plus side, Jasmin says it does give you a break from school, a chance to forget about homework and tests. For some, it can also mean other family members are around to share caring duties.
Sarah, 22, says ‘I enjoy Christmas because I like being around my family at that time of year. We all try our best to be in good moods, have fun and make the day as good as possible.’
It's not always easy...but we always try to make it the best it can be
Of course this year, many young carers won't be able to see family. So Christmas is just another day to look after those they care for.
Do you enjoy christmas?
Opening medications, not presents
A typical day varies greatly from one young carer to another. Christmas is no different.
‘Christmas day for a child that cares for a relative might begin with organising medications rather than opening presents', says Sarah.
‘We were lucky enough that my uncle often made Christmas dinner for the whole family, so the evening was spent round there until it was time for bed.’
It is not always easy
In Jasmin's house, she is the one in charge of food. On Christmas morning, she needs to make sure medication has been taken. Then she prepares everything for the rest of the day.
‘By the time this has been done the preparation of lunch occurs...then obviously washing up everything from lunch. Finally getting to sit down (if you're lucky) and then slowly starting to make a dinner - if it’s needed!’
The pandemic has meant things have been especially hard this year for young carers. They've had the added stress over the health of their loved ones, less time at school and with friends, more time at home taking on caring duties.
It's never been more important to give them hope that things will get better.
Help us keep hope alive
We fight to restore the hopes and happiness of those who need it most.
We help young carers find balance, give them space to enjoy being young and support them into adulthood so they can pursue their dreams outside of caring.
This Christmas, you can help by offering your words of support and writing a message of hope.