Sriya is in her late teens and looks after her elderly, frail grandparents
When I was 13 years old, my grandparents were living in India with my uncle. After my uncle’s sudden death, my grandparents moved to the UK to live with my family. My grandparents were not able to take care of themselves alone, so I became one of the carers to help them with day-to-day life. Although, I was more than happy to help, it was a big change to my life and something that I struggled to deal with for a while. At the time, both my grandparents suffered from mobility and health conditions such as arthritis, unstable blood pressure levels, diabetes and so on. They needed someone with everyday necessities, keeping track of medication and helping to clean their room.
There were many things that I found difficult about becoming a young carer. When I first became a carer, I kept it to myself and did not tell any of my friends for almost two years which made me feel isolated and left out of many situations. This was because I was embarrassed to talk about why I could not meet up with them for parties and sleepovers. I soon realised that this was part of my life and there is nothing embarrassing or strange about caring for somebody that you love.
I also faced some trouble when it came to balancing schoolwork with my home life. In Indian culture, its expected that younger members of the family should care for the elderly; this meant that my caring role was almost an obligatory part of my life and my family struggled to see how it would make completing homework any harder. I had trouble managing this balance for a while until I found out about Surrey Young Carers (part of Action for Carers Surrey) who were able to give me support, I needed to care for my grandparents and complete my work.
Part of who I am
Action for Carers has helped me significantly. They were able to give me support when I struggled to keep up with schoolwork, they also held many events and activities which were a great way for me to meet people who were going through something similar and enjoy some time away from my responsibilities. Looking back, I wish that I had embraced the fact that I was a carer, as it’s something I thoroughly enjoy and would never give up. Previously, I used to shy away from this fact as if it was something people would look down on, however, now I know that it is part of who I am, and there is no reason for it to not be accepted.