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"I grew up thinking I must be the only person like this": What it's like being a young carer?

Jacob Heagney young carer from Masham

Published at 7:00am 31st January 2019. (Updated at 10:27am 5th February 2019)

A Masham teenager is raising awareness of what it's like being a young carer. 

  • 16-year-old Jacob Heagney from Masham helps look after his Dad
  • He has a rare neurological condition 
  • Jacob is raising awareness to mark National Young Carers Awareness Day 
  • Jacob is supported by Carers Resource, which covers Harrogate, Craven and Wharfedale

16-year-old Jacob Heagney helps care for his Dad, who was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition when Jacob was a baby. 

As well as helping at home, Jacob also helps his Dad when they're out in public, as he can suffer from debilitating headaches at any time. 

Jacob told Stray FM: 

"In public, say if he gets one of his attacks which can come in in seconds, he might scream out in pain. I have to explain to people in the area who might be worried." 

Jacob says it can be lonely growing up as a young carer.

He added: 

"I went to a very small primary school. I was pretty much the only person in the school with my problem. So I grew up thinking, I must be the only person who's like this

"But then when I went to St Aiden's, a much larger school, I realised there were lots of people with similar problems."

Jacob now gets support from charity Carers Resource, which helps unpaid carers across Harrogate and Craven

The service has recently started working in Ilkley and Burley-in-Wharfedale

It's been running for the past 23 years and currently supports 395 young carers through trips, holiday activities, youth clubs and by its staff going into schools to meet young carers and give specialist support.

It's estimated one in 12 children is a young carer, with an estimated 85,000 in Yorkshire and the Humber. 

Jacob says Carers Resource has made a huge difference: 

"What I found particularly useful was having these adults who, as a change, actually knew what was going on and understood your home situation.

"And it was a nice place to take some time out and forget about what's going on at home."

Carers Resource says some young people may not realise they're carers, and  is encouraging anyone who cares for a family member to get in touch and seek support. 

It says young carers can become isolated, they're more likely to be bullied by their peers and can have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level. 

Young carers can be put in touch with Carers Resource by a family member, teacher, GP or other professional, or they can contact the charity themselves with permission from their parent/carer, at www.carersresource.org/contact/ or by calling 01423 500555.




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