‘Barnardo’s is the best thing that ever happened to me’

Anton, 11, is a young carer with a big heart and upbeat personality. He has done so much with Barnardo’s over the past three years, but life is far from easy for him. He has to care for his older sister who has a learning disability.

Anton says: “Ever since I was young, I’ve always had to help my sister who finds it a struggle to take in information. I help her to learn and study, but at home it can be really difficult for me to focus on my own school work.

“I love school and maths is one of my favourite subjects, but before I came to Barnardo’s, I was struggling to stay on top of my homework. I was really worried I would fall behind my classmates and this was making me feel stressed and anxious”.   

Young Carer Service

After Anton was told about Barnardo’s at his school, he began using our Young Carer Service, run in partnership with Redbridge Council in 2017. Situated at our Wellbeing Hub in Ilford the service provides a vital space where young carers can get support and talk through any problems they are experiencing.

“Coming to Barnardo’s is the best thing that ever happened to me," Anton says. "When I was told about the Young Carer Service it made me feel so joyful, happy and relieved. Every day I have to help my sister and sometimes it’s really hard to juggle my school work. I also have to help my Dad with chores like cleaning the flat when he has to take my sister to an appointment.

“When I come to the Wellbeing Hub, I am able to focus on my homework and also take part in fun activities with the other young carers. The staff at Barnardo’s are really helpful and I’ve been able to make friends with kids who are going through the same thing as me.

“I really love going to school, but during the coronavirus lockdown before my school re-opened, I couldn’t really do anything and I felt pretty isolated. The fact Barnardo’s was still able to run the Young Carer Service was really important because it meant young carers such as myself could still do their school work.

I live in in a flat without a garden and the one at the Wellbeing Hub was one of the few green spaces I could access. It felt so nice to be able to play outdoors in a safe environment

Leaps and bounds

Anton is a fantastic role model and when he is older he hopes to become a psychologist to help other people overcome their challenges. His confidence and resilience has grown in leaps and bounds in the time he’s been with Barnardo’s.

Anton says: “I have been able to do so much with Barnardo’s and it really has been amazing. I’ll never forget the Fantasy Flight over London at Christmas or when Barnardo’s Patron the Duchess of Cornwall came to visit the Wellbeing Hub and I showed her the music room. I also really enjoyed recording adverts and jingles for Barnardo’s Radio and helping to launch the station this year.

My advice to other young carers who are in a similar situation to me is to don’t give up, but remember to stay positive and ask for support. Even though times are pretty hard, they will get better and Barnardo’s can help you along the way