Karl, from Norwich is 17, and helps care for his mum who has Spina Bifida. He feels that he really stepped up to the caring role when he was about 11 and realised that he could help his Mum. His Dad, who is the main carer, recently had two hernia operations with subsequent complications. As a result Karl is now getting more involved in some of the more strenuous caring tasks.

Karl was introduced to the Transitions service 2 years ago by one of his friends, also a carer, and is currently being supported by YAC support worker, Jo Emerson.

He had been struggling to get work experience. Recognising his interest in gardening Jo suggested he may like to apply for the Princes Trust Get Started programme. They were creating a Wellbeing Garden, in just a week, for display at the Sandringham Flower Show in June this year in conjunction with Mow and Grow, a local gardening scheme. Karl was keen and after attending a taster day was accepted onto the programme. Karl said” I was really pleased to get onto the programme. I was a bit later hearing than some of the others so thought I had not got a place. Was great to hear I had”

Getting to the site meant leaving home at 5.45 am each day and catching two buses and getting a taxi, all funded by The Prince’s Trust. It was a busy week and Karl got to experience lots of different tasks on site whilst working and mixing with the other 9 young people on the project. Karl particularly liked being given responsibility for going and collecting supplies and deliveries. “It was great meeting other people and gave me confidence. It also let me have some time away from caring for Mum although I am always thinking about her and text regularly to check she is ok”..

The garden went on to win a silver gilt medal during the judging. He got good feedback from the programme and is now going on to do a Construction course at college.

Karl explained that he really benefits from Jo’s support. “We meet regularly and I know that she is there if I need her” Jo is also currently helping the family with a PIP appeal and recently got a grant for a new bed for Karl. “You should have seen mine. There are springs poking into me everywhere and there is a big dip where my feet are as it is broken” he commented.

Jo said that Karl, who is diagnosed with ADHD and has some learning difficulties, can sometimes get frustrated with his caring role. “Meeting and having a catch up allows Karl to let out these frustrations and talk about how he is and what is going on at home”.

A recent London trip arranged by the Transitions team gave Karl the chance to meet and connect with other young people who are also caring. He had only met one of the group before. “We went to the Dungeons, on a river trip between the Eye and Greenwich and had a trip on an open top bus. I enjoyed the day and meeting the others”.  Jo said “wherever Karl goes there is a lot of laughter and he is full of jokes”

“Knowing Jo is there makes all the difference” Karl said. “Hope she can continue to support me and my family. I would like to learn to drive next.

Norfolk Family Carers is funded by The Big Lottery to provide emotional and practical support to young adult carers aged between 16 and 24. The service has a particular emphasis on helping young people make the transition from school to further education, work or training and to reduce isolation resulting from caring.

For more information or to find out more, please call 01603219924 or email info@norfolkfamilycarers.org