Christmas can be a challenging time for young people, like Charlea, who care for a family member. Instead of relaxing with relatives and friends, young carers often face additional pressures during the festive break, taking on even more responsibilities than usual.

16-year-old Charlea lives with her mum, Donna, in Long Stratton who she’s been looking after since she was six. Donna, has serious health conditions and has had multiple operations.

Charlea says she helps her mum by cooking, cleaning and doing the housework over Christmas whilst also providing emotional support. For the first time this year, they will be spending Christmas Day just the two of them:

I’ll be doing the shopping this year as the weather has been so bad it’s dangerous for my mum to go out. I just have to make sure everything is sorted for Christmas. I’ll be wrapping my own presents too – like I do every year.”

Charlea has been speaking to Carers World Radio Plus about the challenges she faces at Christmas and has this message for politicans about the situation she and many other young people find themselves in:

I don’t have much of a social life – I’m either working, studying or helping my mum.I have struggled with my mental health over the years. I wish politicians would give more of a chance to people like us – we’re seen as minorities but we could really do with more support.”

Charlea is studying Politics, Philosophy and Photography at City College Norwich, where she regularly attends the Young Adult Carers Drop In Sessions, hosted by Transitions (The Big Lottery Funded 1-to-1 support service for Young Adult Carers in Norfolk). Charlea has received 1-1 support from a Transitions Support Worker and has attended several workshops and activities hosted by Transitions for Young Adult Carers.

The 2011 Census found more than 5,700 carers under the age of 25 living in Norfolk, although the true figure is thought to be much higher.

If you know a young person who is looking after a family member or friend who would benefit from some additional support, please call Transitions at Norfolk Family Carers on 01603 219924.

You can see the full interview with Charlea Medcalf on the Carers World Radio website.