Bromley carer Matt Hall, 18, reveals what life is like looking after his younger brother
PUBLISHED: 15:51 14 June 2013 | UPDATED: 15:51 14 June 2013
To mark Carers Week, regular sports contributor Matt Hall has written candidly about what its like to be a young carer in Bromley.
Matt, 18, is carer to his younger brother and details his experiences below, as well as discussing the recent visit by Amy Childs to Carers Bromley.
Now 18, I have been caring for my 16-year-old brother for most of my life. He has severe learning difficulties, as well as Klinefelter syndrome and epilepsy, the latter of which causes him to have seizures.
I see myself as one of the lucky ones. Although my brother’s communication and understanding is very limited, he is physically very able, and can have very basic conversations with others.
What’s not so good, is the fact his epilepsy can mean seizures at any time. These began a few years back, and have, thankfully, become less serious as he has grown up.
Conversely, his behaviour has become harder to deal with as he has become older, as he is now bigger and stronger.
My caring role means that I’ve never known what it’s like to live in a ‘normal family’, as such.
Losing my mother when I was five-years-old made this an even harder journey for me. Yet, it has made me who I am today, and without this experience I believe I would be very different person.
If anything, despite its limits, it has spurred me on to do well in many aspects of my life, including studying, and my passion for sport and sports writing. It’s been tough, and it still is, but I choose not to look back with regret, but to recognise what I and my family have come through, and how strong we are as a result of it. It’s important to remain as positive as you can.
Carers Week is a fantastic event. It means that carers nationally are recognised for their hard work, something which may not be seen without such an event.
It helps organisations like Carers Bromley to acquire funding to improve their services to carers, which is vital.
Most importantly, it increases awareness of carers nationally, and hopefully this will in turn, remove the stigma associated with those who have a caring role, in some situations.
I was recommended to Carers Bromley by my step-mum in 2005, and since then, the service has provided me with nothing but the greatest support and advice, as well as an opportunity to relax, meet others similar to myself, and meet some well known people, such as HRH Princess Anne, and Amy Childs.
Amy’s visit came as a huge surprise to me.
As someone very much in the public eye, I was very impressed with her determination in wanting to come and see us, fitting it in to a tight schedule.
I found her to be very friendly and supportive, she was interested in what we had to say and had one to one chats with all of us.
She understood the importance of what carers do, and offered her advice on many things. She has told us that she wants to come back and see us again soon, which is great. She has even invited us to Essex.
After the event, she gave me a follow on Twitter and I’ve had a message or two from her which is great.
I must also give my thanks to the Health Lottery and The People’s Health Trust, who worked hard to provide funding for carers recently, as well as organise the visit.
Being a carer is what I do, and what I will continue to do. This should be no reason for anyone to feel ashamed, instead, they should feel proud of what they have achieved.