Marking Carers Week 2011, actress Pam Ferris makes an impassioned appeal to raise funds for The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.
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Millions of people in the UK
dedicate their lives to caring for a loved one.
20 years ago, the Princess Royal established The Princess Royal Trust For Carers
to provide these carers with much needed support.
Most people will know somebody who's caring.
Now they might not recognize it as an issue but there probably are.
I know what it feels like to be a carer,
my mother, Nancy, had late-onset Crohn's disease
and I looked after her for the last years of her life.
When she moved in with me I was in my mid-30s, living alone
and I had very little money because I couldn't work.
My overwhelming feeling for all those years was one of isolation,
and sustained panic.
There are over six million carers in the UK, unpaid family members
putting the needs of their loved one before their own.
175,000 of these carers are children.
This is Chelsea.
She is now 11,
but when she was just five years old her mother started to go blind.
-So, what's just one dot?
I started losing my sight about five/six years ago.
I was ill, got to the hospital
and I had tuberculous meningitis on the brain.
Chelsea and her mother live alone,
so there was no-one else that could step in.
Chelsea gradually became her mother's carer.
She realised that I couldn't see things, couldn't do things,
so she just started helping and it's been going on ever since.
All the chores involved in running the home
fall on Chelsea's 11-year-old shoulders.
I started doing the bathroom then I got used to it,
so I started doing the rest of the house.
I don't like cleaning... cleaning the toilet, though.
The hardest thing for Chelsea is leaving her mother alone all day.
When I'm going to school I worry about her,
when I am coming, like, back I worry about her,
or when I'm out of the house I worry about her.
It makes me sad because she's missing out on a lot of things.
Chelsea should be having a life really,
not looking after me, it should be me looking after her.
Many young people are caring
because they're in a family environment,
they're happy to help and they want to be part of that caring role.
But there's equally a very good chance that they will find it
more difficult to attend school,
they will find it more difficult to have friendships.
Years after my mother died,
I started working with The Princess Royal Trust For Carers
because I could empathise, having been a carer myself.
The more carers I meet, the more I realise
how great is the need for support.
-Hello, come in.
-Sarah, hello, it's Pam, nice to meet you.
Sorrell, would you like to say hello to Pam?
-Are you going to say hello to Pam?
Hello, what's over there?
'Sorrell is 11 years old and was born with cerebral palsy.'
That's the cockerel, which word says frog? Oh, well done!
'Although she has severe physical handicaps,
'in many ways she is just like any other 11 year old.'
You are very clever, aren't you?
She's bright, she's vivacious,
she is stubborn,
'But although she is very mentally alert there are many things
'Sorrell is not able to do.'
She is still very much a baby in terms of her caring needs.
She still wears nappies.
We still have to change her nappies several times a day,
all her feeds have to be given, she's tube-fed,
she takes nothing by mouth.
We have all the medicines. She can't dress herself.
Sorrell needs care 24 hours a day,
which is provided mainly by her mother Sarah.
But Sorrell has three younger siblings that her parents
also have to look after.
I've got a seven-year-old boy and twins, a girl and a boy,
who just turned three.
That's quite a job before you start with Sorrel.
When I first found out I was expecting twins, I said,
"How will I push a pushchair and a wheelchair?!"
I think it's a bit like walking on a precipice,
everything is going fine and then something gets thrown at you,
and you fall off, you stop coping, that's when the emotion gets to you.
Carers so often need help and encouragement,
and this is where the Trust steps in.
They can provide a dedicated support worker, like Diane,
who can give the carer one-to-one support and advice.
Chelsea has been meeting with Diane once a week since 2009.
And how's your mum at the moment?
She's OK, um, her eye's been, like, really painful and stuff.
-So you had to help her?
I had to get like, some hot water and cotton wool and just dab it.
Maria's disability has had quite a huge effect on Chelsea,
The worry Chelsea experiences is one of the most debilitating things.
She worries about her all the time, when they're not together.
It's just very difficult for her.
'Chelsea has built a very strong relationship
'with Diane over the years.'
'She knows there is someone there to listen to her all the time.'
'I don't think I would've coped without that support.'
Because I needed to get my mind off of the things stuck in my head.
They've just helped me a lot.
The Trust works to support the millions of carers across the UK
with a network of 144 carer centres.
There, people can ask advice, information,
or just chat to someone in a similar situation.
I feel very alone sometimes,
but carers would be a lot more isolated without the support groups
because it gives us somewhere to come together as a group,
to chat, to exchange ideas.
Coming to speak to somebody else can put a problem into perspective.
Carers of all ages need support and help.
But young carers need something else as well - time,
to be free, to be just a kid,
and have a break from their caring responsibilities.
'Once a month Chelsea's carer centre
'organises an activity afternoon for the young carers.'
'If it's a role that young carers
'feel they would like to contribute to,'
we don't stop them from doing that,
you shouldn't say that you can't do this,
but you do allow them to have their own young lives
to do the things that they want to do with their friends
and again its about the space and the time to be able to do that.
The support workers help me and Chelsea a hell of a lot.
If we didn't know anything about them,
I think we'd just be another one on the list of nobodies...
Because nobody would have known, and no-one would care.
Carers of all ages carry a huge burden.
The Princess Royal Trust For Carers
is there to help them bear that responsibility,
but they can't continue to do so without your help.
Please donate by going to the website:
Or, if you don't have access to the internet, call:
And if the lines are busy, please, please keep trying.
Or if you'd like to post a donation,
please make your cheque payable to
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers
and send it to:
Remember, if you're a UK tax payer,
the charity can collect Gift Aid
on your donation, worth another 25%.
Just send in a note to say you want your donation
to be subject to Gift Aid,
and include the date,
your full name and address.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Marking Carers Week 2011, actress Pam Ferris (Matilda, Rosemary and Thyme) makes an impassioned appeal to raise funds for The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. Speaking from personal experience, Pam Ferris describes the isolation and lack of support carers can face, having been one herself for the last years of her mother's life. The film features an exclusive interview with the Trust's president, HRH Princess Anne.