Matt Anderson is a Carer Wellbeing Support Worker and part of our Community and Young Adult Carers Team. He also volunteers as a Community Responder with the South East Coast Ambulance Service.
Often ‘carer’ is misunderstood, people tend to think of a professional agency carer who visits homes. While these carers do a vital job, there is a much bigger army of 6.8m unpaid carers who are the family, friends and sometimes neighbours of those they look after and who couldn’t cope without their help.
The fact these 6.8m save the economy £4,185 every second may just sound like another statistic, as extreme a stat as it is, but this is a real benefit to society and the state; enabling loved ones to stay at home, drastically reducing hospital admissions, enabling a quality of life that would otherwise be denied to their cared for.
Having had direct experience of ‘being a carer’ myself, I feel I have some insight to help me in my job of supporting unpaid carers. But every caring situation is different and it isn’t wise to assume anything in my role.
I also volunteer for the Ambulance Service as a Community Responder, so I am in no doubt whatsoever of what carers do for their community and why they need support.
Much of my work is supporting younger carers (18-25 year olds). I also work with some 16 and 17 year olds in conjunction with West Sussex County Council. This is a huge privilege as I meet exceptional young people regularly.
“It can mean life, interrupted, missing out on university and other opportunities.”
It is hard just growing up, but being young and having a caring role can bring immense challenges. It can mean life, interrupted, missing out on university and other opportunities. It can mean early exposure to heavy issues, a restricted social life and high levels of anxiety. This is where Carers Support and the other agencies we work in partnership with can make a difference.
So what do I see as our biggest challenges?
Challenge no. 1 – Find young adult carers. They can be elusive and we are working hard to seek them.
Challenge no. 2 – Help the young adult carer to engage with our support service on their terms.
Challenge no. 3 – Work with the young person to tailor support to them.
And how will these challenges be rewarded?
Reward no.1 – The satisfaction of providing the young person with an independent listening ear, practical support and the opportunity (if they want to) to meet other young adult carers.
Reward no. 2 – Help the young person to cope with the immediate and to raise their aspirations in life. To see the possible.
Reward no. 3 – Seeing a young person who is feeling less anxious and more hopeful, often very small steps towards this are vital.
The other great reward of this job is learning from the younger and older people (more to come in a future blog) I support and learning about my place in the world.