Stories Case studies Beth's Story If you ask Beth when she became a carer, she’ll tell you a story that her family have shared many times. Beth’s mam has epilepsy and, during one seizure, Beth needed to call her an ambulance. Beth was three at the time. Within a year, Beth had a baby brother. He was born with a condition now known as foetal valproate syndrome, that included hypermobility, visual impairment and autism. He was a tiny baby, so Beth soon started helping out with caring for her brother as well. After several years, her brother’s teacher suggested that the Young Carer Service could offer Beth some support. Beth’s mam made contact with us and Beth got involved straight away. She was now eight, so had been caring for around five years before she was offered any professional support for herself. Along with being a carer, Beth has had to deal with her own health issues. She also has foetal valproate syndrome, though to a much lesser extent than her brother. As a child she had epileptic seizures and is still affected by ME and an under-active thyroid. As you can imagine, school was difficult. Beth’s health problems, together with her caring role, led to being put back by a year and struggling to keep up with coursework. Despite these challenges, Beth achieved the GCSEs she needed to go on to study childcare and learning development. But, as college couldn’t offer Beth the support she needed, she left. At the time, Beth was working part-time in a hotel, so she felt that hospitality could be a good career change. Over the years, Beth took part as much as possible with the Young Carer Service, including social activities, pampering sessions, creative projects and skills workshops. She was a member of the young carer Expert Panel for many years, guiding how we developed the service and helping us to create awareness-raising campaigns, conferences and professional resources. Through personalised funds that we were either able to offer or support Beth to apply for, we helped Beth to attend her prom and have several holidays with other carers. For each of these breaks, Beth had to carry out her own research, create a budget and complete an application outlining why the break was important for her. Beth’s now in her mid-twenties. Having completed an NVQ L2 in food and beverage, Beth soon earned a degree in event and general management. She works for a major hotel chain and uses her role to support local charities like Carers Trust Tyne and Wear. She’s still a carer and, while her brother has become more independent, her mother’s health has become worse. Managing caring, work and trying to have a life of her own is tough, especially as she also needs to manage her own health. However, with the understanding of her employers, Beth has been able to create a promising career for herself and is a testament to what carers can achieve with the right support. If you asked Beth what support from Carers Trust Tyne and Wear has helped her the most, she’d tell you that, whenever she needed practical information or advice, we were there. Or she’d say that being a member of the Expert Panel raised her confidence and gave her a first taste of the event planning that would become part of her career. However, it was the sleepovers that were most significant. They gave her a chance to act like a ‘normal’ child and she remains in touch with the friends she made on those activities. “I feel like I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the service. Going away on activities and being part of the Expert Panel really raised my confidence. At school I was told that I should become a professional carer, but it was Carers Trust Tyne and Wear that encouraged me to follow my career ambitions.” Beth’s story shows that, with the right encouragement at the right time, young carers can still achieve so much in life. Your support will enable us to continue helping young carers like Beth to be the best that they can be, despite the challenges that they face.