Ambeya Thought It Was Normal To Care For Her Whole Family Aged 8
11 October 2019, 13:00
Ambeya had to care for her whole family aged 8 without any help - she was only recognised as a young carer at 12 and wishes she'd known about charity Our Time, which would have given her support and shown her she wasn't alone.
"When I was a kid, growing up as a young carer, I thought it was normal. That's the life that you've been living so for you, every day was normality," Ambeya said.
"So I didn't really know any different. It was only when I got into secondary school that the teacher explained to me that 'what you're doing is not right for a child'.
"It's not normal for a child to grow up at such a young age to be the adult in the family."
James asked what she was called upon to do growing up.
Ambeya said: "Mainly looking after my siblings and my mum and my dad, having to deal with my mum's illness at the same time, so a lot of it included getting my brothers up in the morning, helping around in the house, picking up her medication, speaking to the doctors, social workers and professionals."
"And what sort of age were you when you started having to do this?" asked James.
"I was 8 years old when I started being a young carer but I wasn't identified as a carer until I was 12. So up until then I didn't actually know what I was doing or even if there was a label or if the term young carer existed," Ambeya said.
"I didn't even know what it meant. For me, because I'd been identified quite late, no one actually told me what it is to be a young carer.
"Obviously there's professionals out there that do help the families and everything, but professionals and services are two completely different things, and I didn't have the services. So a lot of the things that I had to do, kids don't have to do."
James said Our Time must fill a lot of gaps that she hadn't had.
"With me, a lot of the stuff I had to learn was through Google. I Googled everything."
James said: "And this charity gives you not just knowledge but support and also the certainty that other people are going through what you're going through. It's fascinating to hear you describe it as thinking that it was normal or that it was only you to whom it happened."
She is now an Ambassador for Our Time, helping to fundraise and raise awareness.