CareFree Service

In their words

mother and daughter

Mat, a young carer, tells us his story

“Imagine a fishing net. It can catch big fish not the little ones. Barnardo’s is like a blanket that covers the holes to stop the little fish, like me, slipping through.”

“When I first came to the project I was scared” admits Mat, a young carer who looks after his mother who has mental health problems. “Me and mum were worried that if we asked for help, social services would split us up.”

Mat’s worry is not uncommon. Many children and young people who first come to CareFree, express concern about what will happen next.

“You soon realise that it’s not about separation, its about keeping families together by offering help with care,” explains Mat, “before CareFree you don’t even know there’s a name for what you are doing, let alone that you can get help. For most carers, they are just looking after mum or dad or whoever is ill. It's life as they know it”.

Mat’s knowledge of young carers stems from his own experience of caring and six years experience of meeting others at CareFree. “At first the project helped me with respite care and I went to young carers’ groups. We would talk about things, but often it was about having fun with people who understand – forgetting your problems for a few hours.”