‘It’s very isolating being a young adult carer in Somerset. You feel like you can’t do anything with your life even if you want to.’
At just 19, most of Sophie Elston’s time is taken up caring for her family; her mother is deaf and has ME, relying on a stick to walk. Her brother, Christopher, has Asperges and relies on her for social and emotional support.
Sophie has created a Fixers project to help the public understand what it is to be a young carer, and the challenges that they can face both at home and going forward in their professional lives.
Sophie told her story to ITV Meridian in October '18.
‘Work opportunities are very limited here, so if you want to progress in any career you often have to move away and it’s difficult if you’ve got caring responsibilities. It’s very stressful.
‘The reason I want to raise awareness is so that young adult carers can have the same lives and the same dreams as other young people.’
Sophie’s own vocational choices have in part been affected by her role as a young carer.
‘I trained in beauty therapy because of my mum’s ME,’ she explains. ‘She has troubles with her muscles so I trained so I could give her massages.’
As a part of her project, she has met with other young carers in her area, in order for them to share their experiences.
'By meeting up it's just kind of a way we can release tension through childish games like table tennis and similar activities that we probably wouldn’t get a chance to do together if we were just sat at home caring,' she said.
‘I am really hoping that it does lead to a support group for people in Minehead, and am thinking of maybe taking it further to the whole of Somerset, just to give that support to other people.'
Zander, another young carer, says that he has found the group beneficial.
‘I think it’s a good idea to meet up with people who come from the same sort of background caring for parents and siblings and that. If we have issues we can help comfort each other. I want somewhere to go to be away from home.’
Audrey Mansfield, from the Somerset Carer’s Project has spoken in support of the project.
‘We’re really keen to do what we can to support transitioning young carers to set up whatever they feel would help them.
'We can help her to locate the appropriate venue. We can help her to advertise the group to let other people know through colleges, through schools, through various places that we know that young people in that area meet, and inform them this group is starting and support Sophie in growing that group.’
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.