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“I’m building confidence in myself” Jolene’s story

Jolene’s life has revolved around her caring role for a long time. Her son Tyler, 14, was diagnosed with autism, ADHD and sleep disorder at a young age. Supporting Tyler as he grows up, as well as parenting his two younger siblings, has been all-encompassing.

“It’s very tiring and demanding,” said Jolene. “Sometimes I’m awake 48 hours because he’s not able to get to sleep at night. You never know how your morning will go, whether your child is going to be able to go to school or have a meltdown.

“They hit you, lash out at you. You’re always on edge because you don’t know what’s going on for them inside. It affects relationships and time with friends because you don’t get a break. People say ‘that’s your child, he’s your responsibility’ and he is, but he has additional needs which makes it harder. If you ask for help, you can get labelled, you feel like you’re being judged. Carers Allowance is not enough, so you’re struggling with money at the same time.”

Jolene is registered with Swindon Carers Centre as a parent carer and recently secured funding from the Carers Support Scheme which has given her the chance to fulfil a life-long goal. She has used the funding to pay for courses in hair, makeup, bridal makeup and bridal hair at the Flourish School of Beauty in Swindon, accredited by the Guild of Beauty Therapists.

“I’ve always said, ‘I’m interested in hair and makeup’ and this funding has allowed me to achieve something for myself,” said Jolene.

“When I passed my hair course I cried because getting a qualification was something I had always wanted to do, but I didn’t have the opportunity.

“The staff at Flourish spent hours teaching me and talking to me about what I want to do in the future. I really enjoyed it, just having that break made a difference.”

After passing her courses, Jolene was invited by a friend running a photography studio to help do hair and makeup for 15 women invited to a mental health and wellbeing day. She said, “the buzz of it was amazing” and that support from Swindon Carers Centre has encouraged her to think about her own wellbeing, to build in time to pursue her interest in hair and makeup alongside her caring role.

“Things have been hard, and that won’t necessarily change,” she said. “Tyler will always need support. But I’m building confidence in myself to do something for myself. I just want to keep practicing and seeing what I can do with it. It’s about showing yourself that you’re worthy and that you can do something.”