"My name is Daniel. I am 15 years old and I care for my dad.
"My dad was in the RAF and whilst working he had an accident which caused spinal injuries and he could no longer carry on with his job - this happened 8 years ago. Luckily he can still walk but he needs a lot of help, he also has kidney problems. I also help to look after my sister Evie: I do things like taking her to school or helping her with homework. I have been caring for my dad since I was 12.
“I am home schooled as I found it hard at school, I felt like I didn’t fit in and worried about my dad all the time which caused me to have panic attacks. I manage my studies as well as looking after my dad but I did find it really hard. I had no friends and really only went out with dad and Evie to get shopping and maybe a drive in the car. I had no one my age to talk to and I felt really lonely and isolated.
“My dad suggested I join Young Carers. I didn’t want to at first but we went along and met Carole and she was really kind. She helped me to fill a few forms in and asked about the things I did for dad. I never realised I was a young carer, it was just what I did. Dad was dependent on me and I didn’t want to let him down but I sometimes felt trapped.
“I really lacked confidence and found it hard talking to people. I started off having weekly 1-1 sessions at Carers Link Lancashire and I found it great to talk to someone who understood what I was going through and I worked through my action plan. I would not go on any trips or join any activities for quite a while but, gradually, my confidence grew and the first trip I went on was to the cinema because it was dark I felt ok. I sat with two other boys who started talking to me and from then on I have never looked back.
“I attend the groups and try to do as much as possible with young carers. Carers Link Lancashire also helped me get a laptop for my studies by contacting SSAFA Armed Forces Charity (who helped because my dad was in the RAF). My dad also had a care package which meant that he was no longer dependant on me. Carole found out about Brownies for my sister and now she has something to look forward to as well.
“The best thing I have been involved in with young carers is the allotment. I helped to grow fruit and veg and took it home to cook which helps me relax. I even managed to get my dad to come along one day and although it was hard for him to get there I wanted to share with him what I enjoyed doing when I was not caring.
“I have made friends and they understand how hard it is caring for someone. I think that Carers Link Lancashire helped me a lot because I would have not met new people or made friends and I would still be alone.