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The nominations for our Young Covid Hero have arrived and you can read why they have been nominated below. As our organiser Eddie McCall says, “What these youngsters do is absolutely amazing and, sadly, most people don’t know that they even exist let alone what is required of them. There are over 3000 known young carers in East Sussex alone and research suggests that there could be up to 11,000 “hidden” young carers in the county. The pressure on these youngsters is intense and the Covid pandemic has increased the pressure more so. They do it without complaint and fuss and are rarely acknowledged in the way they should be. We in the Rotary Club of Senlac would like to recognise the efforts of young people in this situation by making awards to the person or persons who are judged to have contributed most as young carers.”
Alisa, aged 11, lives in St Leonards and was nominated by her mother.
Alisa’s mother has a number of debilitating and disabling problems which cause
her mobility and other health issues including mental health
Alisa has three brothers and all 3 other siblings have their own health conditions or needs of their own. Alisa’s step dad does a lot but she also helps by doing her room, putting clothes away, putting the washing on and helping to prepare food as well as other jobs. She goes shopping if needed and gives support to her mother when they go shopping together. Her mother said,” Even though she has her own health conditions and needs she still does so many things Bless her She is an amazing young lady and I'm so proud of her everyday "
Bailey, aged 15, lives in St Leonards and was nominated by his mother.
Bailey lives with and cares for his mother who is disabled and has several debilitating conditions which cause her pain and restrict her mobility. Since lockdown he has taken on more of her caring roles, helping with shopping, cooking meals, making drinks, mowing the lawns, doing the washing, doing the housework, looking after the animals and general household chores. Bailey demonstrated his maturity when his mother was suffering from what was thought to be a stroke, but this turned out to be temporary paralysis episodes. He called for an ambulance talking through what was wrong, describing symptoms, what medication she takes, all while waiting for the ambulance staff to turn up to take her to hospital. Bailey has also looked out for his grandparents, who live down the road from us, helping them with their shopping, general housework and their gardening, as well as checking in on them to make sure they are both ok.
Bailey has done all of this without a grumble or asking for anything. He has not asked to go out with his friends when the lockdown was easing because he didn’t want to bring anything back to either his mother or his grandparents as he knows they are high risk. Bailey himself is not without medical problems; he has mental health issues as well as other chronic conditions including asthma.
His mother says of him, “Bailey has shown real maturity for his age through this pandemic and has shown exceptional care and attention to both myself and my parents. I am so proud of what Bailey has done and keeps doing for both me and his grandparents and I don’t know where we would be without him, especially as I have recently been diagnosed with more medical problems. He really does have a heart of gold and has been an incredible support to us”.
Harrison, aged 11, and Ben, aged 9, are brothers from Staplecross and were nominated by their mother
Harrison and Ben’s mother, a single mother, was in work when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour which was surgically removed when she was 12 weeks pregnant with Harrison. Sadly, a nerve was damaged which left her with severe headaches, depression and other problems such that she was medically retired from her job. Subsequently, she developed osteoarthritis in both knees which worsened her depression and caused her severe anxiety problems.
From an early age the boys have always understood their mother’s problems and appreciated why their mother couldn’t always do what other mothers did. When their mother had debilitating headaches, they would be helpful, patient and comfort her while she was incapacitated for a day or two each week; the headaches continue even after ten years. Recently her parents moved locally to give her support but Covid overtook that support. Her first thoughts were, “How an earth am I going to cope with being locked in the house with my children for the coming weeks!” and the stress and depression increased. After explaining the circumstances to the boys that their grandparents wouldn’t be able to help, they came up with ideas on how to manage the situation. They take the dog for walks, make lunch and do many other domestic chores; they also decided they would give their mother two hours of uninterrupted time every day and go off and play games, keep themselves very quiet on their mother’s bad days and provide her with everything she needed.
Summing up, Mum said, “I am mum to two of the most caring, funny and polite boys you will ever meet. For the past 11 years my children have been my support team, my carers, my comedy duo and the reason I get out of bed every day. Above all of this they gave me a reason to keep getting up every day and not sink into a deep pit of depression. They kept me laughing, kept me busy and kept me sane. I thank my boys regularly for being so caring and always helping me, but I would love for them to know just how grateful and proud I am of the fine young men they are”.
Harry, aged 12, lives in Hastings and was nominated by his mother.
Harry looks after his mother and his young sister who is 7 years old. His mother has many health problems which mean that she is very restricted in what she can do for herself. Harry has to help her dress and help her with her everyday needs. At night, when his mother is crying with pain he will go and sit with her, help her take her pain killers and stay with her until she falls asleep. He helps prepare meals and sometimes cooks for them as well as entertaining his sister when his mother has a “bad day”. Harry worries about his mother’s future and this adds to his own personal issues. His mother said, “Harry has spent the last few months protecting his sister and I with all his might. He never asks me for anything or complains even though I know that behind his lovely little smile, he has the whole world on his shoulders. He is my rock, my carer, my best friend and has had to learn the hard way that he is now the man of the house. He is one in a million”
Holly is 16 lives in St Leonards and was nominated by her mother.
Holly’s mother has been struggling with mental health difficulties and is having in- patient treatment at the moment. Throughout, Holly has been caring for her two younger sisters who are 3 and 9 years old, doing the housework, cooking and shopping and whatever is needed. Her mother said, “Holly has it hard too. I feel like I put a lot on her but she has taken it on so well, she has her own stuff going on and I know it can be very stressful for her. She really just has been a superstar and I can’t thank her enough for what she does and what she has to put up with.”
Josh, aged 13, lives in St Leonards and was nominated by his mother.
Josh's mother has a number of debilitating and disabling problems which cause her mobility and other health issues Including mental health
Josh has two brothers and 1 sister all 3 other siblings have their own health conditions or needs. Josh step dad does a lot but josh also helps by doing his room, putting clothes away, putting the washing on and helping to prepare food as well as other jobs. He goes shopping if needed and gives support to his mother when they go shopping together. His mother said,” Even though he has his own health conditions and needs he still does try his best and help. He is an amazing young man and I'm so proud of him everyday "
Julia, aged 8, is from Hastings and is nominated by her mother
Julia’s story is not just one of caring for her 6-year-old brother but also one of sacrifice of a normal childhood. Her brother, nearly as big as she is, is severely nonverbal and many things upset him. Julia does not watch TV or other digital devices, use crayons or colouring materials or eat treats, except when he is in bed late at night, because all of these cause extreme stress to him. He cannot manage playgrounds or pools so she doesn’t take part. Because of his size Julia cannot physically help him much or stop him when he hits out but she will still try to calm him even though her mother tells her not to. She doesn’t complain if he hurts her because, “He is my little old brother and he needs me.” Julia is very patient with him and has taught him to take off his socks and slippers and helped him overcome his fear of water. Julia loves to read, one of the few things she can do without disturbing him; she’s passed this to her brother who, although he can’t read, now likes books so much but can turn page by page and look.
Julia’s mother says of her, “She has given up absolutely everything for him and this really breaks my heart. but she is still doing this fully hearted and she loves him so much. Bless her, she is amazing with him and with everybody even though she has her own emotional challenges, but she is doing her best to support him and me as well. Since lost her dad I am the only support for her and she is trying to cope but with the lock down things are even harder as she has to stay home all time with my son around and no school, no friends she can meet so it was intense and scary sometimes but still she is all around him full of love care and support.”
Keisha, aged 17, was nominated by her mother.
Keisha has been caring for her mother for three years since she was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with a serious liver disease and now each day is a struggle for her. Keisha sees to her mother’s needs and tries to make life as comfortable for her as she can. When, during the pandemic, she couldn’t see her other children Keisha was by her side going to the shop every day and ensuring that she had her medication. On top of all that Keisha’s mother has had an ulcer for nearly a year and Keisha changes the dressings daily and makes sure they don’t run out of supplies. Her mother says,” Without her I really don’t know what I would do. She now wants to be a nurse due to caring for me. She’s my rock and still continues to be.”
Kira, aged 15, was nominated by her mother.
Kira looks after her brother who has muscular dystrophy and her stepfather who lives with an acute pain syndrome. Kira has stepped up during Covid when her mother lost both her brother and a very close friend in a short space of time, losses she felt very badly. Kira helped with keeping the house going and giving her mother time to grieve, “In this strange time when funerals don’t feel real and the send-off not complete.”
Kira has also kept an eye on a family friend who suffers with mental health issues and reminded her mother to check on an elderly neighbour who is on her own.
Although Kira lost an uncle and she knew her mother’s friend very well she stepped up so her mother could make arrangements and travel to funerals while she stayed home and looked after her 3 younger siblings.
Maisie, aged 12, lives in Bexhill and was nominated by her mother
Maisie, a member of a single parent family, is carer to her twin brother who has spina bifida and autism. Her mother also has mental health episodes and at these times Maisie comes to the fore again, making tea, cooking meals and cleaning, but all the while she is still caring for her brother. At school she looks out for him making sure he is coping and not being antagonised. She has stayed positive and upbeat throughout lockdown, even though she had her own anxieties, and helped her brother with his schoolwork encouraging him and praising him for his efforts. If, at night when her brother wakes in pain, as he does quite often, Maisie’s sleep is disturbed she will not settle until he goes back to sleep. She always puts him first and foremost.
It’s not just her brother she puts first; she also puts others including her school peers first too, even if it is going to cause her some problems. At the beginning of lockdown Maisie knocked on some of their elderly neighbours’ doors and gave them boxes of chocolates to “Keep them smiling”. Maisie and her family keep in touch with the rest of family by Zoom and she has helped write quizzes to keep them all entertained.
Maisie’s mum says of her, “Maisie is my rock, she doesn’t know how special she is. She will always think of things to do to uplift everyone around her but does forget about herself a lot of the time. She doesn’t think she does anything ‘special’ as she just gets on with it without any complaining. For her to be recognised for this award would be amazing and give her the recognition she truly deserves. It would give her a huge boost that although she wouldn’t admit it would do her the world of good.”
Ollie, aged 15, was nominated by his parents.
Ollie is a registered Young Carer for his younger ten-year-old brother who has complex needs. Throughout lockdown, Ollie has looked after his brother without hesitation while his parents have been at work. He has organised his breakfast, done his home schooling (a challenge at the best of times), cooked his lunch, taken him for walks around the village, played with him and cooked the family dinners.
He has done this without hesitation and with a smile. He is kind and patient with him and always puts his brother’s needs before his own. His parents would not have been able to go to work during lockdown if they had not had Ollie at home looking after his brother who had to shielded, so he could not go to school. His bother normally has a 1:1 at school due to his complex needs. This has never phased Ollie. He just seems to ‘get’ his brother and knows how to help him to succeed and thrive. His tolerance levels are amazing!
His parents said, “Throughout lockdown, Ollie has regularly cooked our evening meals, walked our dogs, hoovered and dusted the house. He never moans about doing these things. He is such a thoughtful boy – often arriving with a cup of tea when we return from work.”
Ollie has also been doing the shopping for two of their elderly neighbours. He visits them each week, gets their shopping order and delivers it.
Romano, aged 8, was nominated by his mother.
Romano has been a carer for about a year and a half caring for both his mother and his 3-year-old sister. His mother has a very debilitating disease, ankylosing spondylitis, which leaves her very weak. He helps his mother dress and getting her up the stairs as well as minding his sister. Although he doesn’t understand what the disease is, he still strives to do his best even though it leaves him flustered and tired. He has not stressed about not seeing his friends but has tried to understand the situation and help his mother even more. His mother says, “He's very protective even more so because I take biologics which weaken the immune system in return to combat my disease.”
Ryan, aged 14, lives in Bexhill, was nominated by his father.
Ryan, although suffering from mild autism, plays a big part in helping his neighbours and his family. Outside his immediate family he helps out his grandmother, daily walks a neighbour’s dog and helps other neighbours as needed. His mother has an illness that stops her being active and his father has joint problems which restrict his mobility. But Ryan is there to help as necessary.
A year ago Ryan’s elder sister had a massive seizure which caused her to stop breathing; Ryan dealt with it all calmly making her comfortable, sorting the medication and other things she needed to take to hospital while waiting for the ambulance he had called. He had never been shown what to do but acted on instinct and initiative. Without his help his sister may not have survived. Since then Ryan has taken it upon himself to find out about his sister’s illness, how to give her medication and tell the teachers at their school how to treat her. He is now her official carer. When Ryan’s father is at work, he is indispensable to his mother and was very supportive to her and his grandmother when his aunt died earlier this year. His father said, “For us as a family he is our star. If anyone deserves recognition for how amazing he is, then it is Ryan,” and signs himself “A proud father”.
Tiannah is 13, lives in Bexhill and was nominated by her mother.
Four years ago Tiannah’s mother took on the full time care of her, then 7 year old, niece who has both developmental and learning disabilities and attends a special school.
Tiannah shares her room and her time with her younger cousin with no complaints. She helps prompt her to get dressed, showered, clean her teeth and so on. During lockdown the girls had to home school in their room. As Tiannah has a toddler sibling who needs their mother’s attention it fell to Tiannah many times to help guide her cousin and remind her to do her school task. Her mother said, “A few times I found her teaching her simple math tasks. It was beautiful to witness. Tiannah made games up for the garden like gymnastics or trampolining. She is truly a superstar and has no idea."
Terri-Lou, aged 13, lives in Etchingham and was nominated by her mother.
Terri-Lou is a carer for her mother who has a number of physical problems affecting her ability to stand, bend and hear. These conditions not only affect her balance causing her to have regular falls but also have led to her mother having mental health problems. Terri-Lou takes change and oversees her medication, right pills at the right time, helps her with personal chores, cooks dinner every day, helps the others with house work, looks after the pets and helps the rest of the household is aware that other members of the household may need help too. Terri-Lou is also her mother’s ears when her mother is unable to wear her hearing aids. During the pandemic Terri-Lou has felt the stress and struggled somewhat in balancing her caring needs and her schoolwork but has coped exceptionally well.
Her mother says,” Terri Lou should be selected for the Senlac Rotary Community award because of the outstanding effort she has put into both caring for a disabled parent and the effort and hardworking abilities she has put into her schoolwork.”
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All those nominated are truly remarkable youngsters and you can read their story here. This article is an absolute must-read, highlighting the lengths young people go to help their family in times of need.more
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