144. Melissa Moody
A 17 year old from Southampton who has helped thousands of young carers receive more support whilst caring for four family members.
Melissa is a ‘Young Carer in Focus’ volunteer who champions the needs of young carers in school. She juggles this whilst caring for her mum, step-dad, dad and grandmother who all have health problems.
Melissa has had a lot to cope with over the past few years; her mum has depression and a slipped disc in her back. She also had a pace-maker fitted because, in the past, her heart would stop for up to seven seconds at a time, often causing her to faint. Her step-dad has recently undergone open heart surgery, her dad fell from a balcony and suffered a head injury and her grandmother is blind. There isn’t a day that goes by when Melissa isn’t doing something for her family, whether it is picking up a prescription, paying bills or cleaning the house.
According to Carers UK, there are around 700,000 young carers around the country who take on practical and emotional caring responsibilities that an adult would normally do. 13,000 young carers spend more than 50 hours a week caring for loved ones, missing out on opportunities that other children and teenagers enjoy.
Although some of Melissa’s family has complex health needs, Melissa went on to achieve 17 GCSE’s over a period of two years with the support of her school. She is now using her experience to help others, educating over 400 teachers in Southampton in just 18 months and using her weekends and evenings to help other young carers find the confidence to share their story. Melissa also recently helped to launch a new programme called ‘Young Carers in Schools’, providing practical resources and help to young carers and initiate support for them and their families.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“Melissa has grown up quickly, juggling caring for four family members and achieving a fantastic set of GCSE results with remarkable strength and resilience. On top of all this, her generosity to give back to others and ensure more carers can be supported in school is courageous. Melissa is inspirational and selfless and I am delighted to make her a Point of Light today.”
“Sometimes, I feel as though I’ve had enough, but I know I can’t stop. I love my family and I also want to help other young people who are struggling alone. I’m very grateful that I have my sister which means that even during the toughest times we support each other. This award is a huge honour. It will inspire me to continue to campaign on behalf of young carers and raise awareness about the issues we face. I’m very keen to help others, as there are so many people out there, younger than me, who do so much more.”
The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.Volunteer now