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Last Updated: Tuesday May 02 2006 07:36 GMT

I help care for my dad

Hands helping someone to stand up
Gemma helps care for her dad who has multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis is an illness that affects the nervous system. This means that he can't do much for himself - he can't feed himself or pick up a cup.

In her report she tells Newsround what caring for her dad involves and why spending time with other young carers helps her to relax.

"I've been helping to care for my dad for a while now. I've been giving him drinks and food ever since I was little and I started to help move him when I was about eight or nine-years-old.

On a typical day I help my mum to get my dad out of bed and put him in his chair.

I tidy up, give him drinks and help feed him. If it's a day when he's having a shower, I help shower him too.

I wasn't taught how to do any of this - I just got on with it and copied my mum.

I think this has meant that I've had to grow up faster because I've had a lot of responsibility from a young age.

I don't get particularly fed-up that I have to do it or find it difficult - it's normal to me. I can't imagine not looking after my dad now.

Misunderstood

Some people at school know that my dad's disabled.

It's hard for them to understand the responsibility I've got though - I do stuff they wouldn't normally be doing.

They don't really understand it until they come around to my house and see for themselves.

If my dad is ill overnight I get the next day off school because I've had to spend the night in hospital.

The teachers understand but sometimes other pupils don't. In the past I've been accused of skiving, which made me feel worse.

Different from friends

I usually go shopping with a friend rather than my mum because we can't leave dad.

We don't go out as a family that much - we can't really go to the cinema and in restaurants people sometimes stare.

It's also rare that we go on holidays.

Chilling out with other carers

It was great to find Young Carers.

It's a group for people my age who care for someone.

And because everyone there knows that you care for someone, you don't have to explain yourself.

You can chill out and it makes you feel like you're not the only one who's doing it.

There are about 25 people in the group and I've made lots of friends.

We go on day trips and weekends away.

We've been to places like Butlins and Alton Towers - places I wouldn't be able to go to with my dad.

Accepting difference

When I was younger, I didn't want my dad to come to parents' evenings because my family were so different.

But, as I've got older, I've got used to it and Young Carers has shown me that I'm not the only one who helps care for somebody.

When I'm older I would like to work in either news or politics so that I can raise awareness about disability issues."

Gemma, 13, Dursley


Why don't you write us a Press Pack report - and get it published on the site?!

It can be about anything that's happened in your local area - or your views on the news.






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