My time to shine

One in seven people in the UK often feel lonely*. David Leslie from Glasgow was just nine when he became a carer for his mother who had mental health problems. This made him feel lonely and isolated from other people his own age. Now four years later, David tells us how his life has changed, thanks to the support of the National Lottery funded Glasgow Association for Mental Health (GAMH) Young Carers project…

“I used to hang about in my street. My friends were horrible and nasty, calling me names and hitting me. School was across the road. No-one at school knew. They wouldn’t understand.

When my mum took ill the social workers said it would be good for me to get out and about. They told me about Young Carers and sent someone to the house to talk about it. I was thinking it would be fun to go and meet people. Sometimes I had to take care of mum when my brother was out. Then mum got really ill and my brother left home. I was on my own with my mum for a wee while, dad wasn’t living with us. I just got on with it, didn’t talk to anybody, just Young Carers.

Arriving for the first time was scary, because I didn’t know where to go and who I was going to see. They were nice and friendly, and the other kids were roughly the same age or a bit older. It was good because then I could make more new friends. We had games night or we’d go to the cinema. I didn’t get to do that before. Mum thought it was better because it gave her some space and gave me a chance to make friends.

My mum passed away when I was ten. I live with my gran and grandad now. They’re both disabled and I’ve got to look after them sometimes. It’s stressful. I do shopping and help gran in her wheelchair to get out and about and I take the dog out and clean up the house. Young Carers helped by talking me through it. That made me feel a lot better. I would feel the same rubbish way if I didn’t have Young Carers, it would be horrible.

The one on one sessions are good and more helpful because you can talk to just one person without being surrounded by other people. It’s a chance to talk to someone who really knows you. Me and Laura [David’s keyworker] like Costa for our one-to-ones! It’s good that I can be trusted to travel on my own and I know there’s going to be someone waiting for me. It’s been a year now and I don’t let anyone down, I’m always there and on time.”

The Young Carers project aims to improve young people’s resilience, confidence and life chances in a safe and supportive environment. For more details on the project visit the GAMH website.

* Statistic provided by British Red Cross

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