Tarnesha (pictured above, right) is a typical 16-year-old. She goes to school, enjoys drawing and regularly hangs out with her friends.
She does, however, have extra responsibilities that others her age don’t have. She is also a carer for her mum.
Tarnesha does a lot around the house, to help her mum. She assists with her mum’s medication, cleans the house, does the shopping, looks after their animals, and takes care of her nieces and nephews. While she enjoys being able to help, she says it can be a bit hard.
When she talks about her involvement in the Young Carers Mentor Program, you can hear the happiness in her voice.
As a sociable teenager Tarnesha she says getting together with all the other young carers and mentors is what she enjoys the most about being involved in the program.
It’s also when she gets to have a break.
“I’ve gotten to meet heaps of new people,” she says. “And it’s a break from family life, and a break from who (the young carers) are helping every day. We don’t have to worry about anything else.”
Tarnesha regularly attends the group catch ups, where the young carers and mentors come together for a trip away or an activity. Tarnesha she says it’s one of the aspects of the program she enjoys the most.
“I really enjoy the trips. Especially when we went to Canberra, and to the Shep (Shepparton) Show with the big group.
“I really like meeting new people, making friends and catching up with them.
“I love the young carers, they’re really cool.”
Tarnesha is partnered with mentor Sue (pictured above, second from right), who has been involved in the Young Carers Mentor Program for several years. She liked Sue from the first time they met.
“She’s a lot different to the other mentors, we got along really well all the time. We can sort of relate to each other.”
Sue says she has seen a positive change in Tarnesha after being together for the past two years.
She was partnered with Tarnesha in October 2017, while she was already mentoring another young carer in the region. She thought being involved with another young person would be useful for them both.
“The reasons for them being in the program were very different,” said Sue. “I thought it would be beneficial for them to see what other young carers were coping with.
“It’s been exciting watch her mature and become more aware of different social situations and people’s personalities.”
Sue and Tarnesha catch up about once a month. Sue tries to find activities that are not expensive, but provide hours of entertainment, like a picnic at the local pool, or going to the local show. When it was Tarnesha’s birthday, Sue took her to Spotlight to purchase some art and craft supplies.
“She loves art and craft and is quite good at it. When it was Mother’s Day, we went shopping for crafts she could make a present for her mum and she did that at my home as well as baking and decorating a cake.”
Sue says the Young Carers Mentor Program is to be commended for the work it does to provide positive experiences for young carers in the region.
“(The program) shows there is another side to life. It can provide a sounding board external to the family, where you can give quiet encouragement and advice on different aspects of the young carer’s life.
“Not all young carers have the money to undertake new experiences that assists wider socialisation and broadens their view of life and its many opportunities, and this program allows for that.
“Dependent on reason for the young person being a carer you can really have a big impact on their life. It’s really rewarding watching them grow and mature.”
As a mentor you can help change the life of a young carer. That’s a rewarding experience.
For more information about our Young Carer Mentor Program in the Hume region, please get in touch with us on 1300 971 720.