Do you ever some across anything that makes you feel really angry? Over the last few months I have almost a default position of anger, what with everything that is going on in the world, but I mean really angry because of something that seems so unjust it is untrue.
I don’t mean the normal Trump, BREXIT and everything else stuff – what is happening in the news on a daily basis which seems to make everyone angry whichever side they’re on. I mean the stuff where real people in need suffer because there is just no justice, because the system doesn’t cater for them, maybe even militates against them. And when those people are among the most vulnerable in society on not one, not two but three counts, there must be something really wrong. This is about children who are young Carers, but who then have their own special needs on top of that.
Yes, there are Young Carers’ projects designed to support such people. A superb job they do, too. It always moves me enormously seeing TV reports of children having to take care of their parents, or siblings, sometimes in very demanding cases, and then trooping off cheerfully to school and being enormously philosophical about it all. But it always leaves me with a strong feeling that society should not expect children to do this, particularly when it might be enough having to cope with the problem of having parents who are ill in some way anyway – mental health problems, some sort of chronic disease or condition or even progressive wasting diseases perhaps. To expect these children to look after their parents as well is too much.
And those projects which do support them, which seek to “give them a life”, are underfunded, stretched to capacity and barely able to deal with their workload. They can’t take all the children in these situations anyway, which is appalling in its own right. They would dearly love to, but through no fault of their own they are unable to. The projects just can not afford it.
But then for some there is the extra whammy, which does make me angry. If children who have already been dealt this rough deal have then to deal with their own problems – special needs, Asperger’s syndrome or autism for example – What chance do they have? They clearly need additional support or extra care.
But oh no!!! If only…… They then have further rubbish heaped upon them for reasons that are no fault of their own because of the lack of joined up thinking, because of the inadequacy of resources, because people or departments don’t talk to each other – probably don’t have the time to in our hard-pressed public services. That makes me feel angry. The Young Carers’ schemes do not have the resources or the skills, through no fault of their own, to deal with this extra and considerable complication. Those involved would dearly love to – they are the sort of people who are aching to help people like this. But they do not have the specialist skills or training, and they already have their work more than cut out looking after the “normal” children. ….. I hesitate to use the word normal and certainly do not want to stigmatise anyone! But I can’t think how better to put it.
I was at a meeting recently where a Young Carers’ project was reporting in. We received the project’s report, but then heard about the specific example, which had happened the previous evening, of a session where one of the children present was autistic and had an “episode” because he couldn’t deal with what was happening in the (fun) session. The leaders dealt with it very well and the young boy managed to carry on and it could have been far, far worse.
But it was hearing about this which made me feel really angry:
- That the wonderful people running such a project who do not have the resources – time or specialist skills – to deal with someone who has been dealt such a bad hand in life have nowhere else they can turn to.
- That the young boy at the centre of this, with “multiple disadvantages”, can be the victim of a lack of connectedness in the system.
So it isn’t enough that he is having to cope with the extra load of being a carer, it isn’t enough that he has people close to him who are ill – perhaps terminally – or very needy in some way, it isn’t enough that he has his own “Special Needs”. On top of all that is the fact that “the system” has no place to make his life better.
That makes me angry. What chance does he have?