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10-16 June 2024

James Parkinson is 20 years old and studies at the Royal College of Music. He plays Trombone, Tuba and Guitar.  He is one of four siblings and a young adult carer to his brother and his youngest sister.

When he’s at home he supports his brother, George (18), who is autistic and has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and epilepsy. James listens for his brother during the night in case he might be having a seizure, aids him in his drumming and bass guitar and keeps him safe when they go walking. James also supports his youngest sister, Stella (17), who has Diamond-Blackfan anaemia, by helping her with her music and anything else she physically struggles with. Stella has other physical disabilities, but despite having joint issues and minus a finger on each hand, she is very adept at piano.

Over lockdown, James was at home, and spent more time helping his parents care for George and Stella. The family stayed in to shield and protect Stella. George had been used to going out for daily walks, so James set up activities to so he could be busy with his art, worksheets, drumming and bass guitar lessons.

Respite opportunities reduced drastically during the pandemic, with so many outdoor things closed. James’ local Carers Trust Network Partners suggested he could do some respite at home, safely, to comply with all the restrictions. James applied for a small grant for a microphone which meant he could record music, and collaborate with others.

James said: “Over the lockdown, the mic grant motivated me to keep making music. It’s been therapeutic. It’s allowed me to record high quality music, to collaborate with others online and be creative. Being able to make my own music has given me quality time for myself”.

“When I was younger, my other able sister Daisy and I would come straight home from school and help care for George and Stella. Not because we weren’t allowed to go out, but because we would be concerned about being away from George and Stella for the long school day. The time we spent at home all together was always so lovely. Being a carer from a young age has given me an ability to understand and respond appropriately to certain situations, especially living with someone with autism, OCD and epilepsy”.

“We all enjoy music, and my parents have been incredibly encouraging. From buying my instruments, to taking me to youth orchestra rehearsals, and paying for lessons. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I didn’t have that. They never let me be a young carer hinder my musical journey.”

With thanks to James and Carers Trust for sharing this story

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