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Sunderland Carers’ Centre

A Book About Young Carers ,   By Young Carers,  For Young Carers. 


RAINBOWS AND ROLLERCOASTERS PRODUCED BY SUNDERLAND CARERS’ CENTRE

WITH THANKS TO THE 93 YOUNG CARERS INVOLVED IN MAKING THIS BOOK, ESPECIALLY THE EDITING TEAM, BECKY, ROSS, LAURA, HANNAH, BROGAN, KAYLEY AND KATELYN.


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A group of Young Carers came up with the idea of this book because they

were tired of all the negative images of Young Carers in the media and they wanted to

shout about all the positive

Rainbows and Rollercoasters

things they were doing. is the name because it isn't always

easy, there are tough times, but there are also lots of great outcomes and from reading this book you will get an idea of some of the fantastic

achievements Young Carers can make. Sunderland Carers’ Centre are so proud of all the Young People that we meet. We have seen young adult carers conquer their fears and jet off around the world to do voluntary work in Africa, Borneo and Costa Rica. We have been amazed by young people that have organised and delivered a conference to a room full of professional adults. We have seen determination, bravery and confidence from all of the fantastic young people we work with. There are so many great

stories to share so we hope you enjoy what the Young Carers have to say!


Who is a young carer? A young carer is a person aged between 5 and 25 who helps to look after someone in the family at home because they are disabled, have been ill for a long time, have a mental health problem or a problem with alcohol or drugs. They may care alone or as part of a family.

What do young carers do? A young carer may spend time doing things like cooking, cleaning and shopping. They may also give medicines and tablets to the person they look after or help them to wash or get dressed. Some may help their brothers or sisters to get dressed and take them to school.

Some young carers may not do any of these things but they may worry about the person with the illness or disability. Because of doing these things young carers can sometimes feel tired and not always be able to concentrate on their school work or homework, or they can be worried or feel stressed.

A message from Caitlynne (aged 15) “Most of my friends don’t know what a Young Carer is but it would be amazing if everyone understood the meaning of ‘A Young Carer’”


A Happy Day with my Mam taking my dog on a walk, by Daniel, aged 6.


At first I was scared about speaking at the Young Carers’ Conference in front of 60 professional adults, I’d never done anything like that before. I did a speech about how I felt about my mam being poorly. It was hard at first writing about mam's illness but when I practiced a few times I felt good and I felt more confident again.

I also played the role of a teacher in the drama. I hope we will get to do the conference again, I would like to do it in front of my teacher from school. I don't think I will be scared next time.

I could stand Picture from conference 

up and speak in front of anyone.

Caitlin Surtees, age 10


A Borneo Adventure In 2007 when I was 15, along with 4 other young carers I got to take part in a 3 week expedition to Borneo with ‘Jungle Bill’. Once there, we spent 10 days in the jungle where we had to build shelters and beds using vegetation around us. We also learned how to make traps for providing food, but luckily we didn't have to put them into use. 2 men from the E-ban tribe taught us what we could eat in the jungle, e.g. plants and berries, and also which plants produced water. Our spare time was spent playing in a nearby pool and waterfall. We left the jungle in an army helicopter which was a surprise. A trip to Brunei showed that there is considerable wealth, as well as extreme poverty in the country. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Robert Shevlin, 22 years


I am a carer for my brother who has autism. I was 13 when he was diagnosed. At first, I didn't want to talk about it as then I’d have to accept it and I didn't want to. When he was younger he used to speak and then he just stopped. This was hard as he was now making noises and pointing when he wanted something but I couldn’t understand what he wanted. This meant he began to get frustrated and began banging and stamping. I would get frustrated and upset as I couldn’t help him, I felt a bit useless. Once I started Young Carers, I began to talk about my situation and how I felt and the people around me understood how I was feeling. This helped me because it helped me understand a lot more about autism and how to cope with it. My brother attends a special school called Sunningdale and is now talking again. My youngest brother has also been diagnosed with autism, however this time I am more prepared. I have a better understanding of what this means for my brother and how I can help him. I recommend that anyone who is in a similar situation as me should attend Young Carers as it really helped me and it will help you too. Also, Young Carers showed me that there are people willing to listen and help. Katelyn Bradley (15)


Confidence is a big thing if you don't have any. For me growing up I didn't have

much I would hide under tables and wouldn't say boo to a goose.

I attended a media training course for a day with Sunderland Young Carers and wow it helped me loads. Over the years my confidence has grown I spoke on national TV and even stood up in front of people sharing my experience as a young carer and telling my story. Confidence is a great learning curve and we all learn something new every day. For me the biggest achievement is asking for help from social services. Which to many is a scary thought... It's one of the biggest steps me and my family have ever taken. After many years of being somewhat scared of the process it's been the best thing ever. It's hard being a young adult carer looking after someone and just being yourself too. I found my confidence and I want to show you it's a great thing and learn from it because once YOU are happy with your family receiving care from care workers you can enjoy life just like me and one day you never know you too could enjoy an adventure in Africa just like I did :).

By Becky Nelmes aged 25.


Because...

I was recognised


BECAUSE I WAS RECOGNISED AS A YOUNG CARER... I have been Being recognised as a Young Carer made it easier for me to deal with things. Even me who is really shy and doesn’t like to make friends, I made friends straight away and you’ll never get bullied here at Young Carers.

on residentials

I have won awards

I went to Borneo I don’t feel alone

I found my voice!

I have represented Sunderland Carers’ Centre around the UK. I realised that I need to care more about other people like my Mam and I now know that I have a responsibility for others apart from myself.

I had my picture in the newspaper Learnt how to use public transport.

I was able to share my experiences with others.

I am less anxious

I am more willing to join in with situations outside of my comfort zone.

I went to a themepark, and I loved it

I joined a group, since coming to Young CarersGroup I have learnt patience because my little brother has Autism and doesn't understand everything all the time.

I am more confident


I got a Young Carers School Card to help me at school

I stood up and sung infront of people, I have learnt about what I love singing but I other people go through. never would have had the confidence to sing in public before. I know that somebody will always listen I’ve made friends with people who are in the same position as me.

I understand what a Young Carer is.

I go out and do something every week.

I went to meet Sunderland Football Team

I got my driving licence I can turn to someone to chat with.

I found time for myself.

I have done loads of training courses, I learnt first aid, media training, cookery and I even did road safety when I was younger.

I’ve been on great trips

I found funny, fun friends

I learnt to play the drums.

I now understand my Mams Mam’sillness illness

I have been to Africa

I spoke to my GP

I am happier

I have done things I never thought that I would do!

I joined a Young Carers Group and I have made new friends, I made friends, I learnt that there are people like understand they me doing what I do for my Mam but doing other things to help their families.what I am going

I get time just for me!

through and I know what they are going through. That is why they are my bestest friends ever.

I learnt how to balance my school and home life


Sunderland Carers’ Centre

as a young carer!


Me and my family at the beach. Sometimes we can’t go to the places I want because my brother kicks off but I still get to have fun.

Sophie, Age 7

I learnt to play the drums and a lot of other new things. Young Carers gave me the chance to go on lots of trips and holidays. Poem by Kaiden,  Age 10 

When I come to the groups and trips I can see my friends and learn things.

Katelin Drawing  by Amelia,  Age 5  


Kayley, Age 12


3 Years ago I met a friend called Hannah at the Young Carers’ Group and we played all day. Every time when we are on a trip we are always in a group. Last year we went camping and we shared a room and we sit together and we are in a band, we play the guitars. Michelle, Age 11


al; garden was phenomen My first visit to the was s of bright colours. It there were thousand The first I ev er heard  ran I en rd ga e th d re te en about the ga like an illusion! As I rden was  en lay and dove into it. I th k oc w h mm e ha e n th  I  w to er a ov s designing  Later on dinner n. su w ’s h er a t  mm su I  t w ho a e nted it to loo there in th k like. After  ung carers the openin yo a while we g y wa e th y (b s og td g  c ho s ot up to  e wa re it m ed ony. We all ra arriv n in and play y played for a da ed ck pa t je a r te ed and  ges. It was v !) Af ery fun and I hot dogs are the best B y  C  w a il . it l n et lin rg e fo  S ve r urtees , age 1 r forget  a day I’ll neve 0. we went home. It was , age 12   By Laura-Jayne Smith

The first time I heard about the garden was when I got

‘The garden of dreams

asked to be on the flower pot gang. I got to hang around with Phil Tuffnell and Anneka Rice. At first I didn’t know what to think but

….. Because its always been our dream

to have a garden…’

after a while I felt better. I got to do cricket with Phil and Flowers with Anneka. Then after though 10 days it was time to see what the Flower pot gang had done. I walked with my eyes closed and headed in with Anneka... it was amazing! Then after a few games, it was time to name the garden and open it up. I cut the ribbon and we named it...

The Garden of Dreams As it really was a dream come true!

Hannah Jayne Coates


The first time I saw the garden I felt really inspired as a group of young carers got together and built the garden from scratch. This made me think that if a group of young carers that are in a similar situation to me can do this I can do anything I put my mind to.

Katelyn Bradley, 15


Negatives come for all young carers, but for me it has mostly been good experiences. I care for my sister who has autism, she isn’t very good at expressing her feelings. This year she wrote a letter putting me up for The Young Achievers Awards, I was gobsmacked when I heard what she wrote in the nomination, how she felt about me and how much she loves me. The first I heard about it was when an envelope came in the post, inside it were some tickets, they were for an award ceremony. My mam then explained what they were for; I ran upstairs to my sister’s room and hugged her to death. I was so excited. A few weeks later on a Wednesday my mum said a man was coming to film me for the awards, I had no idea. It was a good thing I was at the young carers group, it was so freaky, having a camera in my face filming me. I was thinking about how many days it was till the award day. The days flew by. I woke up one morning and the day was here. Then came the panic, my shoes weren’t here, luckily after school my dad quickly took me to get some shoes. When we walked into the stadium, the nerves got to me. In a few minutes we took our seats. Then my category was up, my friend Megan went up first, she got highly recommended. When my name was read I was shaking. My heart pounding. I reached the stage after almost falling over twice. I went backstage and got asked some questions. Then after the other winners were done we headed to my Nanas. I will never forget it and that would have never been possible without my older sister Rachel. Thanks to her I was recognised as a young carer and now I am closer than I’ve ever been to Rachel and I also did this amazing thing. None of this would have ever been possible without Rachel. And so she is and always will be ...

My Inspiration Hannah, age 11


Supported by

RAINBOWS AND ROLLERCOASTERS A Book About Young Carers, By Young Carers, For Young Carers. A group of Young Carers came up with the idea of this book to SHOUT about all of the positive things they were doing. Inside is a collection of stories, pictures and poetry aimed at giving you an insight into their lives. If you would like more information about Sunderland Carers’ Centre or if you are a Young Carer and you would like to get involved contact the team on (0191) 5493768 or visit the website www.sunderlandcarers.co.uk/youngcarers

Rainbows and Rollercoasters  

From Sunderland Young Carers

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