The BBC estimates that there are about 700,000 young carers in the UK. Being a young carer often means looking after a family member who is ill or helping them by looking after the other members of the family while they can’t.
Year 10 student Harry is a young carer and here we find out more about his experience as a young carer for his younger twin brothers Arthur and Alfie, 6. The twins have Down Syndrome, also known as trisomy 21,which is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability, and characteristic facial features
Harry, who is one of six siblings and the oldest living at home, cares for Arthur and Alfie by helping them in many ways including getting them dressed, bathing them, putting them to bed and checking on them throughout the night. Harry not only helps with the twins but also looks after his other younger siblings and cooking meals for the family like steak and spaghetti Bolognese whilst also working part time on weekends.
In the mornings, Harry will have sometimes been up for hours before he goes to school helping to keep the twins safe, playing with them and lifting them in to their school bus when it arrives at the house. Harry has a special bond with the twins, in particular Alfie. Alfie is completely non- verbal except for one word: Harry. Harry’s younger brother Ben also helps and supports the family and is the go to DIY family member. Ben changes batteries and fixes toys for the family.
Harry is keen to change the stigma around Down Syndrome and has given talks about his brothers. Harry said: “People think that having a disability is a negative but it isn’t. Arthur is a cheeky monkey and Alfie is amazing. They are so much fun to be around.”
Harry not only helps at home but also attends events organised by High Five a Lancashire based charity which provides activities for disabled children and their families. He regularly attends meet ups and spends time taking part in activities with other children with disabilities.
Harry’s mum Emma said: “Harry wants to make people more aware and more accepting. People have no idea what life is like for him – and other young carers. He adores his brothers but looking after them is demanding and difficult sometimes. But I know he wouldn’t change them for the world. He truly is an inspiration.”
Harry said: “When I say I’m a carer, most people presume I look after a parent, but I look after my siblings. I think siblings who care for siblings don’t get the support or the recognition they need. I don’t get asked to do this. I do it to support my brothers and to help my mum. My mum does a great job, she’s a superhero, and I hope, through telling my story, I can raise awareness of the need for more help and support.”
Headteacher Mr Waller said: “Harry is a credit to his brothers and the rest of his family. I would like to thank Harry for sharing his story with the school community and helping to raise awareness and more understanding surrounding young carers and down syndrome.”