The crisis of young carers: ‘Going to school is a break’

ach morning, as he approaches his school gates, 14-year-old Bruno Cardeal tries transforming into someone who at least vaguely resembles a teenager. “I try to act more childish,” he explains. “It feels weird.”

 

Being the primary carer for his mum, childhood is not something that comes naturally. His evenings and weekends at home in Peterborough are spent juggling grownup roles, worries and responsibilities – the housekeeping, running errands, administering medication. Bruno’s mother has been in a wheelchair or on crutches since having a heart attack seven years ago, and his father is dead. “The emotional side is the hardest,” he says. “My mum also has depression and sometimes panic attacks, and so I try to make her feel calm and maybe make her watch some TV.” He leaves his homework for when she is asleep: “I wake up at 5.30am or I stay up till 4am. But sometimes I’m really tired and it’s hard to do it.”

 

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