Young carer, 16, must look after family this Christmas
PUBLISHED: 12:29 23 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:40 23 December 2019
A teenager who is the main carer for his mother says he will cook Christmas dinner for the first time this year, as new figures reveal the pressure piled on young carers over the festive period.
James Simmons, 16, from Hingham near Wymondham, will be at the helm this Christmas while his mother Clair recovers from hospitalisation, which he said was "quite daunting".
He said: "In previous years, we've always had a really big day together on Christmas where there has been loads of people to help out with mum and I've been able to relax. This year there's only the three of us at home so I need to do everything.
"Part of me doesn't want to do it but I know I've got to do it for Mum and my brother Liam."
He said his perfect Christmas would be one where his mum is in good health and they could enjoy a big family get together.
It comes as Action for Children revealed 47pc of young carers feel added pressure over Christmas and one in five feel stressed or lonely during the holidays.
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James has cared for his mother since the age of six and supports his 13-year-old brother Liam.
Ms Simmons, 40, suffers from a range of issues including ME, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), chronic depression and chronic anxiety.
James has the main responsibility for cleaning the home, cooking meals for the family and ensuring his mum is properly looked after.
Increased caring responsibilities and sixth form pressure meant James has also had to quit his job ahead of Christmas.
He said: "Before I had to hand my notice in, I was able to use the little income I had to go out and spend time with friends. Now I haven't got the money to do that, so I stay at home instead."
Julie Bentley, chief executive at Action for Children, said: "While most children spend their Christmas holidays decorating the tree, unwrapping presents or having fun with friends, it's desperately sad that so many young carers feel it falls on their shoulders to give their families a happy Christmas."
This Christmas, Action for Children is asking the public to become a secret Santa to support young carers by texting CHILD to 70607 to donate £10 or by visiting iamsanta.org.uk