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'My mum is dying' – care worker recounts heartbreaking exchange with little boy

Life’s been even harder for young carers in lockdown. But charities like TEN North East are offering vital support thanks to National Lottery funding. Below, in her own words, Program Lead Levi Cosker, 26, explains how…

We say the kids we work with are superheroes who don’t wear capes. Providing round-the-clock care for the people they love is something they don’t think twice about – but it can also cost them their childhoods.

There’s one family I support pretty much every day, where a six-year-old and a nine-year-old look after their mother. She has a host of health conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung condition that causes breathing difficulties. Coronavirus has meant she has to shield at home and the kids are with her 24/7.

If you ask the six-year-old how Mam is, he’ll say, “Oh, she’s dying” because she has terrible anxiety and depression, so that’s what she believes.

The coronavirus crisis has made her anxiety much worse. As the schools are shut, her kids are at home all day and those worries are being passed on. They are hearing a lot of grown-up phone conversations they wouldn’t normally be around. It’s my job to help this little boy understand what’s really going on.

I have been dropping groceries, prescriptions and care packages to his family since lockdown began.

When I’m there, I’ll ask the little boy to sit on the windowsill so we can chat from a distance. It gives me a chance to try to explain the situation – that his Mam’s not dying, she’s OK.

The mother calls our project a lifeline – without us she wouldn’t have any support.

At TEN North East and the organisation’s South Tyneside Young Carers Service, we work with five to 24-year-olds whose parents suffer from anything from MS or cancer to depression or dementia. Many of the young people have mental health difficulties themselves because of their responsibilities. They feel isolated, so coming to our after-school respite groups is a chance to feel like a child again.

With coronavirus, our way of working had to change massively. We’ve used social media and Zoom to support 300 families on our database. We have Motivational Mondays, Wellbeing Wednesdays and Family Fridays online.

National Lottery funding helps pay for two members of staff. One used to be a young carer, which makes her such an asset as she understands what the kids are going through.

She has lived through the same kind of experiences so they feel they can go to her with questions and get honest answers.

It has given us a huge lift to be able to keep providing vital support despite coronavirus. 

Visit national-lottery.co.uk/news to learn more about how you’re helping

How you have helped raise £600m to support good causes through the coronavirus crisis

National Lottery players have raised £600m which will support good causes through the coronavirus.

We’re facing exceptional times brought about by the global pandemic.

But thanks to you, essential funding is being distributed over the next few months to charities, projects and good causes most impacted by coronavirus.

Click here to learn more about how you are helping – or visit national-lottery.co.uk/news



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