‘My childhood was really tough. Having two parents with mental health problems and physical disabilities took its toll on me.’
Sophie Drogomirecki’s childhood wasn’t like other young peoples. From a young age she had to care for her parents.
Her father was wheelchair bound after an accident and unsuccessful back operation, he also suffered with his mental health.
Her mother, Sue, is diabetic and diagnosed with Boderline Personality Disorder and Bi-Polar. She also has liver problems and required major surgery to have a mechanical heart valve fitted.
Sophie was supported as a young carer by the charity Crossroads, who hold regular meetings and organise trips during the school holidays.
‘They are one of the best young carers’ charities out there,’ she said. ‘I always knew I had a support network through them.
‘Having other young carers around me was so helpful. We all had to grow up quickly and we could relate to each other more than other people our own age.’
Unfortunately, the support Sophie received in Secondary school wasn’t always the best. The 20-year-old, from Maidstone, felt the teachers didn’t always understand her role and responsibilities at home.
She has now designed a wristband for other young carers to wear at school. It is reversible, so the wearer can choose when to show the words ‘I Am A Young Carer’ and when to show the words ‘Awesome, Confident, Legend.’
‘There were so many times I needed to take a phone call about my parents and the teachers wouldn’t let me,’ Sophie explained.
‘There was no signalling system on the register to let teachers know you are going through a tough time.
‘Not only have you got to do everything a normal teenager does at home you have got to help with everything your parents need. You have got all this other stuff going on and they do not have the understanding.’
Sophie admitted there are times she doesn’t want everyone knowing she is a carer, but believes the wristbands will help young people have some control and seek help when they need it.
This project was supported by the Colyer Fergusson Charitable Trust.
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