Being a young carer: Ashley's story

Ashley was only 15 when she had to look after her brothers and sisters because her mum was drunk a lot. She had a difficult time at home and didn't feel like a child. She hopes her story will let others know that you can get support.

"my mum would normally be drunk"

"I thought my life was normal and everyone lived the way I did. An average day for me would be getting up in the morning where my mum would normally be drunk. I would get my brothers and sisters ready, either for school or for spending the day at home with mum. After that I'd go to school.

"What would happen when I got home from school would depend on what mood my mum's boyfriend was in. If he was angry, he would beat my mum up and the police would get involved. Then he would apologise and come back home and the same thing would happen again the next day.

"The violence wasn't daily, but it had happened often. There was never any violence towards me and my siblings but we saw violent things happen to mum.

I didn't feel like I was a child, I felt like I was growing up too quickly. I didn't speak to anyone about what was going on at home because I didn't realise it was wrong. That was just my life and I thought it was normal.

"My mum used to drink every day as far back as I can remember. Her drinking meant that I had to be the mum to my siblings and I didn't really have a life. I was responsible for making sure my siblings all got fed, were dressed and bathed and in school. I cooked and cleaned around the house too.

"I didn't feel like I was a child, I felt like I was growing up too quickly. I didn't speak to anyone about what was going on at home because I didn't realise it was wrong. That was just my life and I thought it was normal.

"I didn't really see friends outside of school; I was at home all of the time looking after my siblings. I was able to separate school and home and continue to concentrate in class and work really hard because I knew education would be my only escape from home and my mum. I always made sure that whatever was going on at home it wouldn't affect my education and future chances.

"I don't think people at school were aware of what was going on. I gave a good impression of a happy child. At times I felt like a duck with my feet furiously paddling under the water but being calm and graceful to everyone around.

If I didn't get support, I don't think I would have been able to go to college and would have ended up looking after my brothers and sister full time. I would have had no life.

"Things changed when I managed to talk to people who I could trust. It took me a while to trust and talk about my real worries but after I did, I felt better and I got support.

"If I didn't get support, I don't think I would have been able to go to college and would have ended up looking after my brothers and sister full time. I would have had no life.

"I'm planning on going to university and I know I previously wouldn't have been able to. After being the mum to my brothers and sister for so long I couldn't see any end to it.

"My future is looking bright now."

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