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Sheri, who features in Swindon Carers Centre's film, Unpaid carers in Swindon: their stories.

Being a carer is a way of life for me

Sheri, 26, of Swindon, cares for her parents while also working full-time in sales support. Sheri started caring at the age of four and is sharing her story during Carers Week 2024. Sheri also features on our video – Unpaid carers in Swindon: their stories – which you can watch on our YouTube channel here.

 

When I was four I started making pots of tea for my dad. I started helping with household chores because mum was working full-time as dad was completely bedbound.

Then I started going to school. Nothing changed straight away but as the years went on and I got older, I started noticing the differences; I didn’t go to sleepovers, I didn’t get to have family holidays and my friendship group became smaller and smaller. That was probably the hardest part of growing up.

Over the years I took on more duties – washing up, cooking, cleaning, learning about the household bills and when they needed to be paid.

My mum became ill when I was about 14 or 15-years-old, so I cared for both parents. My brother was also poorly having to go through multiple operations.

I would prepare everyone’s breakfast, make sure they took their medication before going to school.

After school I would cook dinner, clean the house and do my homework if I had time – not always. My first priority was caring for my family.

 

By my side

I was about seven or eight when I became registered with Swindon Carers Centre.

The Young Carer Team supported me a lot, allowing me to talk about my worries, and helped with school because I was struggling with attendance and schoolwork.

Having them by my side was the best thing I needed at the time. I met other young carers and one of my favourite times was attending the Young Carers Festival where we went away for a weekend. It gave me the opportunity to meet people who were very much like me, to have conversations and to make new friends.

Swindon Carers Centre helped me to become ready to make the transition from a young carer into a young adult carer.

 

Caring while also working

Dad has a number of serious health conditions, including Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), that affects his blood, lupus that affects his immune system and he is prone to having mini strokes.

Mum has serious health conditions, including vertigo, tinnitus and crushed spinal discs.

As an adult carer my routine is very much the same as when I was a young carer. First thing in the morning I call both parents, make sure they are ok, they are up and they’ve had their medication.

I will go to see one or both of them on my way to work, at lunchtime or on my way back home from work and call them both in the evening before I go to bed.

At weekends I do a lot of batch cooking at home so they have dinners for the week ahead and make sure their medication is set up for the week ahead. I also take mum out to do her shopping.

Sheri preparing meals for her parents as part of her caring responsibilities.
Sheri preparing meals for her parents as part of her caring responsibilities.

I’m very lucky that the companies I’ve worked for have recognised and supported me as a carer.

When there is an emergency involving my mum or dad I have to drop everything and go and help them. Two or three times a month I go with them to medical appointments and I either use my lunch break to do this or make the time up if it takes longer.

How do you feel being a carer?

I don’t know any different. I’m ok with it. It’s tiring at times. Sometimes I have to say no to friends as caring for my family is my priority.

When I was younger I didn’t feel I would have my own life. In the last six years I have found a balance between my caring responsibilities and looking after myself. I go to the gym five times a week and since 2015 I’ve been involved in pageantry.

Pageantry was a turning point in my life. Before I became involved with it, I didn’t leave the house, I had no confidence. But meeting other women involved in pageantry and hearing their stories inspired me to be proud of who I am and gave me the confidence to stand up in front of people and speak about myself. Through pageantry I’ve also given back to various charities, including Swindon Carers Centre, through raising awareness and by raising over £12,000.

Sheri (far right) with other guests at Swindon Carers Centre's Walk a Mile event in 2023.
Sheri (far right) at Swindon Carers Centre’s Walk a Mile event in 2023.

In 2023/24 I was Mrs Wiltshire Galaxy and was the third runner up in the final of Mrs Galaxy UK.  In 2024 I’m thrilled to have been selected as Ms. Royal Wiltshire for 2024 Royal International Ms. UK, run by Royal United Kingdom Pageants.

I love being part of Swindon Carers and will continue to support them.