A selfie of a young woman wearing glasses and a baseball cap

Becca's experience of being a young carer

Rebecca (Becca) Dean is a young adult carer from Liverpool. Read about the way she's been supported by Barnardo’s.

In October 2023, along with a group of other young people supported by Barnardo’s, Becca attended the Labour and Conservative party conferences to speak with decision-makers and share her experiences.  

“It was really nice to just be heard about the issues people like us are facing… Like the cost-of-living crisis, for example.” 

“I got to talk about how my family have to choose sometimes whether to put the heating on. Sometimes we'll only be able to put the heating on for an hour because it costs so much.”  

We've bought blankets and hoodies because that's just cheaper than putting the heating on. Why do we have to choose between heating and living?

“There were some MPs at the roundtable. They were listening and they were actually engaging with what we were saying, which was really nice.” 

How Becca was introduced to Barnardo’s

Becca cares for her older sister who has serious medical conditions and has been supported by Barnardo’s since 2022, when she was 17.  

“I first came in contact with Barnardo’s through my college. I spoke with my college tutor about how I helped look after my sister, and to me, it was just casual conversation. But she picked up that I was doing more than a sister should and that I was actually a carer for her. So, I got in contact with Barnardo’s and I've been supported by the Young Adult Carers service ever since.”  

Caring responsibilities 

“I've been caring for my sister since I was about 16. She's had health issues since she was around seven, so it’s been ongoing for a long time.” 

Becca’s mum used to be a midwife and had flexibility to look after her sister. However, after the pandemic she had to leave and instead she started a full-time administration job. That meant she was spending less time at home. Becca was in college at the time and would come home early when she didn’t have lessons to look after her sister.  

“My sister’s moved out now, but I still go up to her house twice a week and she comes down to us twice a week. I help with her washing up because she can't grip onto things, and I help her with her washing and things like that. I support her with anything she needs.” 

Impact on Becca’s mental health  

Caring for her sister has sometimes been a challenge for Becca – especially during the Covid-19 pandemic when feelings of anxiety and worry were heightened. 

“One of the problems my sister has is a lung condition called Bronchiectasis. That meant the pandemic was really scary for us. We had every precaution in place because if she caught it [Covid], which she eventually did in 2021, she ended up in hospital because she couldn't breathe. “I changed schools after year 11 and I went to a college instead of staying on at my sixth form. So, I was seeing a whole load of new people. The college was bigger than my school was, and there were all sorts of changes happening in my life. I had to travel, so I was always mingling with loads of different people which meant I always had to be vigilant that I was wearing my mask and sanitising my hands.” 

“If I got sick - even if I got a cold - I couldn’t go near my sister. It was weird to have to think about her health in front of mine.” 

Support from Barnardo’s 

Since being in touch with Barnardo’s, Becca has been supported by her Project Worker, Adele. She helped Becca apply for carer’s allowance which means that she is in a better position to care for her sister. As well as being able to talk to Adele when things get difficult, Becca also attends a Young Adult Carers (YAC) group. There she can meet and chat to  young people in similar situations to her.  

“That isn't something I'd ever really experienced before because my friends all had pretty normal lives and they didn't have someone that they were caring for… So, it's really nice to have other people be able to relate to the issues I’m having.” 

“When I first started on my journey with Barnardo’s, I felt very much like, ‘oh, but what if I'm not actually a young carer? What if I'm lying about this?’ It was very weird because I have anxiety, so that really heightened those feelings.” 

Barnardo’s gave me the validation that, yes, this is a real caring role - I am a carer - and I do need this support.
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