Young adult carer Matts is convinced that without CSWS he could have been just another youth suicide statistic.

CSWS was there to support him when Matts hit rock bottom at the age of 18 after 10 years of caring for his mum.

One of our support workers accompanied him to sessions with the mental health charity Mind. That same support worker, together with another from our SHINE team for young adults carers aged 18-25 provided vital one-to-one meetings to help Matts see his way through the most difficult time of his life, building his confidence until he was ready to attend regular support groups. These one-to-one support sessions continue to the present day.

Like many young carers Matts did not see himself as such. Adopted as a baby by his mum, the two coped well, until Matts’ mum was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I didn’t realise it at the time but I had been caring since I was eight – mum was cured but over the years has had many other complications, conditions and operations,” he explains.

What started as doing the odd errand has grown with Matts, now 22, doing everything from shopping to house work, to picking up medications and ensuring his mother is safe.

His mum needs dialysis three times a week and Matts says toxins can lead to her having nightmares so he needs to keep eye on her, which in turn affects his sleep.

 “With all the things I’m trying to do my life has been put on the back burner,” he says. “I haven’t had a normal childhood, the things that others take for granted like going out with friends or going to friends’ houses – spending birthdays on my own or not celebrating them.”

Despite his own health issues Matts struggled on until he was 18, telling himself he was doing what any good son, daughter or friend would do.

But on his first day at a new college his mother collapsed and was rushed to hospital. As a result Matts came into contact with social services and an occupational therapist came to visit his home to prepare for his mum to return.

“She started asking what I did for mum and I was explaining that I go out shopping, run errands getting her medications for her,  make sure she got to places safely etc and she said; ‘Do you know that makes you a carer?’ I didn’t realise. I thought I was being a good boy and this is what every other son, daughter or friend would do for another person,” he explains.

Now with CSWS support Matts says he has more hope in the future.  “It’s definitely helped knowing that someone else is going through the exact same thing and they can empathise with you,” he says. “You build a bond with these people and you understand each other because of what you are going through.

“When you’re a carer everything is impacted – it’s like a stone in a still pond – the ripples affect everything from family relationships to friends to neighbours and the truth is there are a lot of young people even younger than me out there who are carers and who think they are being good boys or girl – caring can drain you physically or mentally or both.

“CSWS has made such a difference to my life – I was going through depression and having suicidal thoughts due to the stress of everything. It was very bleak at that time – I saw no other options and didn’t see my life would ever improve. CSWS has made a big change to my life. It has been supportive in many different ways – not just supporting me mentally but by helping with information about jobs, link to other services and helping me to build self-belief to allow me to take control of my own life. I am continuing to deal with my depression with the support from support workers in the SHINE team and the future looks more hopeful than I thought it could.”