Jez is a young carer who looks after his Mum and two of his brothers and sisters. His Mum has severe mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, and some days cannot get out of bed. She is unable to work, meaning finances are a constant strain for the family.
On the days his Mum feels worst, Jez has to get his younger brother and sister dressed (aged six and four), make them breakfast, take them to school, clean the house, pick them up from school, make them their dinner, and get them ready for bed. Jez is 16 and had to do all of this alongside trying to study for his GCSEs.
He often misses school. Some days none of the children go to school as his Mum has panic attacks that something would happen to them. She is trying to get better and has been placed on medication by her GP, but it is a long process and she still has bad days.
Recently, the family’s cooker was condemned by the Gas Board as unsafe and dangerous to have in the house. Both Jez and his mum sleep on mattresses on the floor as their beds are broken and the family cannot afford to replace them.
All their meals are cooked on a single electric hob, which burns through electricity, making their bills more expensive and makes preparing balanced, nutritional meals almost impossible.
Jez worries that he should get a job to bring more money into the home. His teachers say he is a bright student and could go on to college and maybe university, but worry the pressures at home may make that impossible.
BBC Children in Need Emergency Essentials provided a new cooker so that the family could cook proper meals without the expense of the bills, and a proper bed for Jez so he could benefit from a good night’s sleep.
The cooker has helped as Jez can prepare meals for the family, and even plan meals with Mum to ease the burden of cooking. This also means that the family can enjoy a more nutritious meal.
Jez is now attending college and some days still has to help his younger siblings get ready for school, as Mum still has bad days.
Interested in finding out more? Applications to the Emergency Essentials programme are currently open, but must be made by a registered referrer, such as a social worker, family liaison officer or member of a support organisation. Referrers can register now on the Emergency Essentials webpage.