Melissa Nash is a mum to two children, and her eldest Toby was diagnosed with Autism at age 4.
“My lowest point was at a Tesco’s. Toby could go in any Tesco’s in the western world except for our local one. We got in the door and he started screaming, over and over, and it got louder and louder and the rest of the store was getting quieter and quieter. Eventually I was approached by the manager, who, trying to help, said ‘whatever it is you need, just take it and go.’ I left the store sobbing. I didn’t go out for a good couple of years after that.”
“I learned that you can’t spontaneously do anything; a day trip for example has to be planned with military precision,” said Melissa.
“In mainstream school he just couldn’t cope. He would sit under his desk. I would collect him and he would throw his bag at me, spit in my face; just the anxiety of the day was too much for him.
“Once he changed from mainstream school to supported school, he knew instinctively that was the place for him, he became much calmer and more accepting of the way things were.”Continue reading Carer Story: Mel & Toby→
Sue Judge is a parent carer who looks after her son, Tobias, who has a diagnosis of Asperger’s, along with her other two children. Sue has struggled with the idea of calling herself a ‘carer’ to her son, despite his additional needs that demand more of her than a typical parent.
‘It’s a constant stress that is always there,’ Sue says, of being a carer. ‘I can’t leave Tobias on his own in the house. Caring for someone is a day in, day out job that doesn’t go away and that can be part of why it’s so difficult.’
Through her work, Sue meets many carers and says people often feel the same way as she did.
‘I’ve found it’s an incredibly common theme for people to feel like it’s ‘just their job’ to look after someone – particularly if it’s their child,’ says Sue. ‘And I say to those people that if you don’t look after yourself you can’t give, you can’t pour from a cup which is empty. There is help and support out there.’
When Sue’s mother became ill in 2014 and also needed looking after, Sue had to stop her work as a nutritional therapist for some time.
20 year old Kelly has helped care for her sister, Holly, since she was five.
“Being a young carer makes you different,” she explained. “You carry a lot more responsibility and can’t go out much with your friends. I didn’t do so well at school.”
Things got more difficult for Kelly last year as her mum was diagnosed with a serious heart condition.
“Mum spent a month in the Royal United Hospital in Bath and it was difficult to see her so poorly. As well as cooking Christmas dinner for the first time by myself, I had to look after Mum and Holly. But my turkey tasted great and the Carers’ Centre gave us a hamper of lovely treats!”
Since then, Kelly has taken part in our Time for Change and Arts Award programmes at Woodlands. She has developed her skills as an artist, and now wants to use her skills to help other young carers, starting her own art club for younger ones. She has also gained support from Clive, our Employment and Training Officer, which helped her improve her CV and get a new job.
“The Carers’ Centre has helped me in lots of ways, from improving my confidence to making new friends. Woodlands is easy to get to for most people in B&NES and to have all the support under one roof is fantastic. They’ve helped me make the most of my art skills and allowed me to do more with it.”
Woodlands can give young adult carers like Kelly a place to turn to when times are tough. We’re almost at a stage where we can buy Woodlands and secure a place for carers – can you help us? Even £5 towards our goal makes a difference. Donate online here. Thank you.
News and views from Bath North East Somerset Carers Centre