This week, the UK is celebrating the unpaid carers who spend their spare time looking after their friends and family. With a lack of support and increasing pressure placed on those in the caring community, Carers Week has been organised to celebrate those giving their time for their loved ones while giving them the chance to get a well-earned break while meeting those in similar positions.  

As this year’s chosen charity is the Worcestershire Association of Carers, we thought it the ideal time to share personal stories from those caring locally:  

I have cared for my daughter since she was born. She’s now 30 years old and has been blind since birth. In addition she has severe learning disabilities and has very limited mobility, needing a wheelchair most of the time. 

When she was a few days old a neurologist told me that she’d never walk or talk and that nothing could be done. I was stunned but determined to do my best for her. At first, despite her disabilities, it didn’t feel any different to being any of the other mothers I knew. But as the medical appointments became more and more frequent it was clear that our experience would be nothing like that of the other parents and their children. While others were going to Mum and Toddler groups we were attending hospital appointments. Inevitably some of my new friendships withered and, with my husband working away much of the time, I became indebted to the enormous amount of support offered by my parents.

I’ve found the strength to challenge outdated attitudes 

Everything became a battle. The consequence of the neurologist’s diagnosis was that he made no referrals to other services that my daughter desperately needed. I didn’t give up. Instead I spent hours at the library each week researching which services could assist and how best to fight to get them.  I’ve found the strength to challenge outdated attitudes – for example one health professional told me that there was little wonder that my daughter wasn’t putting on weight since (in her words) ‘she doesn’t do anything’.  

A social worker put me in touch with the Worcestershire Association of Carers (WAC) when my daughter was about 12, initially to obtain a Carer’s Emergency Card. Their regular newsletter kept me up to date with developments and issues relevant to carers and I signed up for some of the workshops they offered. These were invaluable to me not just because I learned about subjects immediately relevant to me (such as Trusts and Wills as well as how to be a Deputy) but because they offered me the opportunity to engage with other carers, share experiences and swap tips.  

They offered me the opportunity to engage with other carers, share experiences and swap tips

My daughter lives in Supported Living Accommodation now which means I’m able to work part time for WAC. It’s still tricky to juggle my responsibilities but, like increasing numbers of employers these days, WAC offer me the flexibility within my working pattern to be able to care for my daughter in the way that I want to as well.  

There has been a cost to all of this. Years of pressure contributed to the end of my marriage and I’ve suffered more than one nervous breakdown. My son was severely bullied at school. But I’m so proud that I’ve achieved so much with my daughter. All those years ago the neurologist told me my daughter would never walk or talk. She can now do both of those things to some extent and leads a happy, settled life. And me? Well I can focus on being primarily a mum – to both of my children – just like all the other mums. 

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