As part of National Young Carers Awareness Day today (31st January), which recognises the contribution of hundreds of thousands of young carers throughout the UK, we spoke to young adult carer Sherice Davies and her mum Donna.
Sherice, 20, from Top Valley, devotes much of her spare time looking after her 44-year-old mum, Donna, who, after being diagnosed with Sepsis in February last year, suffered kidney failure and a stroke, leaving her unable to do the daily tasks you and I might take for granted.
Inspirational Sherice juggles her studies at Nottingham College with the responsibilities of caring for her mum. From the moment she wakes up in the morning Sherice helps her with tasks like getting washed and dressed, cooking and preparing meals, ensuring she takes the correct medication at the right time each day, and providing that all-important emotional support.
Donna brought her daughter Sherice and her twin brother Rhys up as a single parent. Sherice said: “In the 20 years I’ve been on this planet I’ve never really been away from my mum so we have a really close relationship; she’s like a best friend to me. My brother works full-time so it was easier for me to take on the responsibility of becoming my mum’s carer, and it’s never been an issue, it was like second nature to me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Donna was working as a cleaner right up until the day she was rushed into hospital and put into intensive care. “My mum is diabetic and she stopped eating and drinking so I knew something was wrong. After the doctor saw her she was admitted to hospital and everything happened really quickly after that. She suffered kidney failure as a result of the infection which was so scary, but she recovered well in hospital, and we thought we were over the worst of it, but one night she went to bed and when she woke up she couldn’t talk”, explains Sherice.
Donna had suffered a functional stroke which affected her speech and mobility.
My mum now relies on a wheelchair to get about and struggles to get up and down the stairs, so on the days I’m at College she is confined to her bedroom. I do worry about her when I’m not at home but I know she wouldn’t want me to give up College and my career.— Sherice Davies
Sherice started College after leaving school and has spent the past four years gaining qualifications in hairdressing, barbering, nail art, and now Level 3 Beauty Therapy. She was studying barbering at the time her mum fell ill. Sherice explains: “I remember at the time nearly quitting, but my mum encouraged me to stick with it and I’m so glad I did. Despite what my mum’s been through she’s still a huge support to me and I want to make her proud.
“Since qualifying as a hairdresser I’ve built up regular clients who know and understand my circumstances, so they come to my house to have their hair done, which works really well. It’s also nice for my mum to have people around. Once I’ve completed my beauty therapy course I’m hoping to expand the treatments I offer.
I’m so grateful and thankful to my daughter. She is absolutely amazing and I want to see her succeed in life.
My illness has taken away a lot of my independence, which has been very hard to deal with, and my condition hasn’t really improved over the past year, but I’m determined to stay positive. I’m still here when I could have died in intensive care, so I’m just grateful that I can still be around for my children. Watching the enjoyment Sherice gets from being at College makes me so happy and gives me so much comfort.— Donna Davies
Dionne Ramsay, Achievement Coach at Nottingham College, works with students who are young carers. She said: “The theme of this year’s Young Carers Awareness Day is mental health. Many people become carers at a young age, which can be incredibly stressful. We work with our own young carers and young adult carers to support their mental wellbeing, and signpost them to additional support services.
“The first time I sat and spoke to Sherice she told me about her mum and how she supports and cares for her. She amazes me how she manages to juggle it all; attending College and keeping up with her work. She is doing very well on the course and is always so positive. I don’t think she realises how inspiring she is.”