My name is Stacey, and first off, I am a Young Adult Carer (YAC)
Secondly, I am an official volunteer at a local Radio.
That may sound normal and mundane; just a teenage girl who got a volunteering gig…. HOWEVER, this has been the most amazing part of my life without a doubt.
I love volunteering here, but it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Suffolk Young Adult Carers.
The workers I know personally from YAC is Jayne, Diana, Garrie, Jess, Lizzy, and Emily.
So when describing this, as they know me and the magnitude of my manic behaviour they will probably be able to picture me flailing my arms about explaining this “tree” with “branches” of opportunities that I’ve been able to climb very high up; all thanks to you guys… but don’t worry, it’s hypothetical, so no paperwork is needed for the climbing!
At the moment I’m a good 3 metres up this tree, but the tree isn’t fully grown yet, as I know there will be so many more great opportunities and developments to my experience in the future, so as the tree grows, I’ll continue climbing it, along with my confidence!, if we were to look down on this tree, it’s very pretty yes, but we see these branches and the big old (let’s say oak?) trunk, really sturdy, along with the huge roots keeping it alive constantly, collecting water, photosynthesis and all the science things.
Let’s start with the biggest ring of the trunk of this tree that’s closest to me and always will be my support worker Jayne from the YAC team.
She has worked with me for about 3 years now, and she meets with me every week/every other week to catch up, talk about my problems or achievements, sometimes I’m ecstatic, sometimes I cry, sometimes she phones the doctors or other professionals that need a little bit of a kick to make an appointment with me to make me better or to sort out my medication, but it’s because of her and our catch ups and the fact it makes sure that for one, I get up on those days, making sure that I put enough energy into myself to get ready, to go outside, and to meet in a public place.
Now that is a massive achievement for me any day of the week, Secondly, we have amazing coffee when catching up, which feels nice, because it means that I feel safe as I used to never eat or drink in-front of people, and without pressure, soon enough I started going outside of my comfort zone making sure I chose a different coffee each time we meet up, which again ticks my goals of trying change and to not be scared of it.
Thirdly, because of the time and effort Jayne puts in to support me, she knows me and my ‘signs’ very well, some days I won’t give eye contact, and Jayne will notice this and know that things aren’t going great, or if I’m manic or depressed, or open or closed off, she knows and works with me, and I don’t open myself up to people, to because Jayne has built trust with me.
I have been able to cry in-front of her and been able to always talk freely, this has also led to me being able to talk to other YAC members freely, which makes me feel like I have a family, and lastly, it was Jayne who first told me I was a young carer, how crazy is that, I didn’t even know I was one, and was struggling, then she came and got me the support I needed and got me out doing events!
Now onto these branches! The branches being the Radio, I’ve had Monday sessions with them for about two years I think, then the guys, the Radio Family, made it possible for me to volunteer there!
My life has always been about music, it’s what keeps me going, so all the leaves on this tree? That’s my music and CD’s, bands, gigs, my instruments, music is my world, so music is my leaves surrounding this tree.
But now, all these things, including my body mass, has to be supported, and it had to start somewhere, right? Well that’s the roots and the tree itself, like I said earlier, the roots feed and keep the tree alive, and the roots is Suffolk Young Carers.
Those Monday sessions at the Radio, guess who organised that to happen, that’s right, you carer advisors!
Instead of me being stuck at home, I’ve been to many places like the Zoo (I LOVE ANIMALS!), adventured and camped, even made my own boat!
Went to my first ever music festival, which I still wear the band to each and every day! Many Christmas dinners and parties that are just so so special, Sailed the seven seas, gained Arts Awards doing art courses that you can’t do in school, its different and was amazing!
I’ve been bowling and to the cinema many times, and been on many residential projects to do with adventures and climbing and zip-lining, just everything!
But all these events happen with Suffolk Young Carers, it’s with you guys, funded by you guys, and enjoyed with you, and over the years, as much as I love these events, I do with all my heart, there’s always something so much better that happens at them rather than doing the events itself, and that’s being with your family, your Suffolk Young Carers Family, never have I ever been more comfortable, felt more connected and listened to and been able to enjoy all these times without a single judgement, than when I have been when I’m with Suffolk Young Carers,
YOU keep my tree alive, you were the ones who planted and started growing it for me. Oh and you know how music is a big part of my life, and I love playing my instruments? Well, I have this beautiful guitar, it’s so gorgeous, well that got passed down to me from a previous Young Adult Carer who did a kind of raffle to pass it on, and I was the lucky winner, so even people who have left and moved on from Suffolk Young Carers are still part of the family trying to benefit those who are still in it, and I am so thankful for that. But I hope all that shows, that it really is all thanks to you guys at Suffolk Young Carers, that everything is happening, it’s thanks to you that I’m not this young bullied girl who wouldn’t ever take her hat off due to lack of confidence, being scared to be herself, because you worked with me, and with patience,
I’ve now grown into someone who imagines what the future actually holds instead of wishing there wasn’t any, it’s thanks to Suffolk Young Carers that I know I’m not finished climbing yet, I want to climb higher, and I know I will because I have this support network, I have my YAC Family.
So, now that I’ve shared my story with you, I hope you understand why I want to give something back, I want to help and promote and get other younger people that don’t know that they are even doing hard work that makes them a young carer to notice and get the support, I want to help all the people that couldn’t describe why they couldn’t hang out with their friends because they had the responsibility of looking after a relative who is mentally or psychically unwell at home, and blamed themselves for it, or didn’t understand why it was them that had to do all of it.
There’s people like that all over Suffolk and everywhere, from really young ages to some super old ages, that have no clue that there is support out there for them, so let’s work together to get the information out there and to get more young people, more founders, more awareness!
What I can offer, is with your approval, to be able to have a Young Adult Carer Worker come in to the Radio each month,
We will then be put on Google Calendar so everyone involved knows what’s going on, to have a constant connection in order to promote Suffolk Young Carers.
As the thing is, curiosity is what all the great talk presenters and listeners have.
They’re interested in people’s stories, in why things happen, in how things work, I think this is really important and needs sharing with the rest of the world making it a routine ongoing interview, it entices the listeners by motivating the reason of being a young carer or learning why Suffolk Young Carers is needed for the young carers.
I know you are able to provide amazing information that needs spreading among radio signals, to kick into minds of young people, friends, teachers, parents, of the facts of what it’s like to be a carer, and because you have made all this possible for me.
I would really love it if Young Adult Carers could be involved here, I think it’s a great set up, very easy going, everything all laid out ready to go, anything’s achievable, so please give me the chance to give back to you, to teach you what you’ve taught me.
Let’s get the word out, together.