Young carers say cost of living crisis adding to pressure at home

Some teenagers are juggling caring duties with school and part-time work to help their family make ends meet.

Young carers have opened up about how the cost of living crisis is adding to the pressures of helping at home.

Teenagers come to the Space at the Broomhouse Hub in Edinburgh for a chance to relax, play games and socialise.

Looking after a vulnerable relative while juggling school and work is part of daily life for these young people, but soaring energy bills have made it more challenging.

Christina Farnham takes care of her mum, who has severe back problems, and her 14-year-old sister.

The 16-year-old said: “I give my mum medicine in the morning, I cook and clean, and I try to help my sister with her homework. I try the best I can.

“I also work a part-time job as it takes the burden off my mum and I don’t have to ask her for pocket money. What I’m doing really helps her.

“I grew up very mature and more independent than other kids my age. I feel like it took away from my childhood but I’m honestly grateful to my mum.

“My mum gave birth to me, so why wouldn’t I help her out? I want to be a wall for my family to lean on if they ever need me.

“I know the last few years have been super difficult but I’m just pushing through.”

Blessing took on a part-time job to help with living expenses

Blessing Igba, 16, looks after her 22-year-old sister Vicky, who has cerebral palsy and cannot see, hear or speak.

“I love her. She’s so strong, bright and smart,” she said.

“It can be full-on as I have to be there for her and my younger sister, and I need to be there a lot, but it has been a great journey. I’ve learned how to use sign language.”

Blessing has taken on a part-time job to bring in some extra cash and she said it “definitely helps.”

“We spread the cost of groceries between us but it’s an endless cycle. The electricity just goes [quickly].

“It’s not like we can looking forward to it changing soon.”

Blessing has been coming to Space for nearly nine years and said it has given her many opportunities over the years.

“Half the things I do here, I’d never do on my own, like go-karting. They take us on trips too.

“I feel lucky to have begun going here at such a young age. It’s really beneficial.”

Ebony McFarlane has taken care of her two younger brothers, 10 and 14, and her mum since she was eight years old.

The 16-year-old explains their lives have been more hectic over the last year due to living in temporary accommodation, but the family have finally settled in a new flat.

She told STV News: “It was really stressful. My brother, who has autism, was really uneasy as he had practice prelims.

“It was also stressful for my youngest brother, who moves between my mum’s and dad’s.

“I was also going into school unprepared as I had to leave my school stuff at lots of different places.”

Ebony said the Space has been a positive experience for her to get a break away from school and home life.

“You come somewhere else to relax and forget about everything and enjoy catching up with my mates.”

She added: “I’ve sort of gotten used to the pressure [of being a young carer], but obviously no one should.

“It’s weird telling people that because they tell me You’re not supposed to do that and I say, well I do.'”

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