‘Action for Children changes lives.
‘Action for Children can meet the needs of all sorts of children and young people. The staff aim to find out the problems in a child or family’s life and eliminate them by working alongside them. They don’t judge families. They will take an individual approach to helping every family they meet.
‘Action for Children has helped me progress through life. To me, it’s family – the charity has supported me through personal issues that people would only normally tell friends or family members about.
‘Action for Children turned my weaknesses into strengths. I was a very shy boy at one stage, but now Action for Children has developed me to the point where I can to deliver speeches to large numbers of people. The staff have made me optimistic when I face problems, and helped me deal with them.
‘Even now I’m staff, and no longer a service user, I know I can approach my previous peers for advice and support – they’re always there for me.’
When Sean first arrived at Action for Children’s Birmingham Young Carers project, he was lonely and shy. He was struggling to care for his mother and brother, and he was barely going to school. Thankfully, Birmingham Young Carers was there to help.
‘When I was younger, I never really wanted to go to school. I was usually at home helping around the house, because my mum was really sick. She had suffered from cancer and then was diagnosed with brittle asthma, which made her quite bed-bound.
‘At the age of six, my main role was to help my mum, to get her medication ready and to look after my younger brother. When I was a bit older, I often just wanted to run away from home, because I felt so alone. I missed so much school that the school got in touch with social services, who put me forward to Action for Children.
‘I remember feeling quite overwhelmed. I used to always be at home – I never mixed with anyone outside of school. So when I first came to Birmingham Young Carers, I was quite shy. I had one-to-one sessions with my case worker, who was really nice. She took me out to eat and we just sat at the park near my house and she just listened to what I had to say.
‘I was put with an older group – I was quite young then, compared to most people starting at the project. I made a friend who helped me break out of my shell and become more confident – even with small things, like getting a taxi. I had never travelled in a black cab before. I then started making friends with people my own age, and we would go on different outings – to places like theme parks and museums.
‘Before Action for Children, I really didn’t feel normal, because I didn’t know many people. But once I became part of Birmingham Young Carers, I found there were other people out there who were going through the same stuff as me. I knew a girl at school who was going through the same thing, and I was shocked that there was actually someone else. It makes you feel like you’re not that different after all.
‘My life completely changed after attending Birmingham Young Carers. As time went on I became more mature, and with the support of Action for Children, I became more confident. Action for Children has given me so many options to choose from. I just want to thank Action for Children for all the help they have given to me.’
Sean has gone from strength to strength since he gave this interview. He’s travelled all around the UK to tell people about our work; he became a mentor; he volunteered at Birmingham Young Carers; and he is now a family support practitioner there, at the same project which helped him.