Written by Sanyu Musoke, a Young Adult Carer and founder of YUCAN.
In late 2015, I was due to start my second year at university. I had just completed my first year at Coventry University, studying Media and Communications. It was something that I really had a great interest in, having done it in my GCSE and A levels.
I loved how practical and fun it was to be behind a camera while directing. I loved the imagination of bringing a storyboard into live-action with my classmates, so taking it on as a degree I figured I had a chance at really shining through and perhaps joining a production company or something.
All that until my dad's accident.
My dad was hit by a bus and suffered multiple fractures on his body. My life had done a complete 360 because not only had I been supporting my father in caring for my mum with her own health, but now my hero. My dad will need my care too!
The very last thing on my mind was uni, even though the day before the accident I had paid my deposit for my second-year accommodation. My dad was my number one priority before anything else, and it was a very quick decision to decide to withdraw from the course. How was I supposed to even have the concentration knowing my father was on a life support machine for however how long. I had to make a decision.
I’ve got to be there for my family and more so for my dad.
I had to decide to dedicate the next year fully on assisting my dad on his recovery. That meant learning how to assemble a wheelchair, electric and manual. I became a regular at our local pharmacy, to the point where they addressed me by first name basis. I had also used my carers allowance to support my driving lessons.
The more I did this, the less I linked up with friends. I slowly but surely was postponing meet ups and dates with people. You wouldn't believe how lonely I felt. Struggling with anxiety and depression became the norm. I felt that I wasn’t ‘entitled’ to seek help for my own troubles, especially as I was responsible for caring for family members who really needed me. Who was I to moan? When I finally identified myself as a ‘young carer’ I realised that there was very little support available, and what might have been available, wasn’t reaching me.
But when I look back at that 20-year-old, I think about how resilient and strong she was. It is incredible to really think about how much strength I gathered from that. I had more life skills than any of my mates, and the best part of it all was the gradual recovery of my father and where he is today.
Through self-reflection, I was able to gain inspiration from my experience as a young carer and create YUCAN, a young carer organisation that aims to support the needs of young carers nationwide. In all honesty, I was not sure I was even capable of creating such a thing and for a long time I had always wanted to start something that would help young carers.
The opportunity came up to join a social entrepreneur programme, aimed at allowing young people to use their lived experiences to start social businesses. It’s where I’ve learned the skills, developed a network of support, and am now launching YUCAN! You can find out more about YUCAN here.
YUCAN is currently leading a petition that is in support of young carers under 16 receiving a young carer’s allowance. This petition is almost at 5000 signatures from people all over the world and to think a young carer like me could do that, I know anyone can.
Young Carer, you got this.