Bella Tite is a young carer to her family – at the age of 12!
She looks after her mum, who who has mental health challenges, a younger sister with ADHD and an elderly grandmother who is housebound.
Bella sometimes feels the strain, but she can let off steam once a month when she attends the young carers club inDunstable.
And now the youngster, of Bradford Road, Toddington, has been nominated for a Beds Young People of the Year Award, or YOPEY.
Mum Liz describes Bella as “a blessing” and “the calming influence” in the family.
YOPEY, now in its seventh year, is open to young people, aged 10-25, who live, work or study in Bedfordshire.
Typical entries include fundraisers, young carers, club leaders, volunteers on projects at home or abroad and young leaders who pass on academic or sporting skills.
Bella was nominated by Helen Wright, inclusion manager at Parkfields Middle School in Toddington, where the youngster helps the Special Educational Needs administrator in her lunchtimes and she is a prefect.
Most evenings she is a mentor on a website for other young carers advising about caring issues and bullying.
Helen said: “You will never hear Bella moan or complain. She just gets on with things and takes part in every activity offered and is doing extra work to improve her literacy skills.”
Bella’s mum developed bipolar disorder following post-natal depression leaving her with OCD and mood swings, but believes she is getting better. It means that sometimes she cannot cope as well as she would like with things such as looking after the house.
“I can go to bed and wake up feeling very anxious. Bella will come in with a cup of tea and we will sit and chat. She helps take negatives away by seeing the positives,” said Liz.
“Bella has incredible intuition for one so young. She can see when my moods are developing and she knows how soothing music can be.”
Bella gets a CD she thinks will help. Frank Sinatra is a favourite and she and her mum sit and listen to it together.
Bella’s 11-year-old sister Eva is hyperactive and can be a bit of a handful at times, getting angry and upset. When that coincides with her mum’s moods there can be fireworks.
“Bella will talk to her and calm her down and smooth things over with all of us. She is a calming influence,” said Liz.
Bella and Eva do not see their father, but their five-year-old sister Ruby’s dad Dan visits every day to see they are all OK. Bella¹s nan, Elena, who is 80 and lives on Luton’s Marsh Farm estate, has several health issues, including diabetes, and has had several operations.
Liz visits her several times a day, whileBella stays at her flat every weekend, tidying up, doing the shopping and clipping and painting nan’s nails.
A big release for her and Eva is their monthly visit to the young carers club run by Carers in Bedfordshire at Kids in Action in Dunstable.
“Bella is a friendly girl, very energetic, always running around and is very helpful,” said Raychel Hall, a Young Carers support worker.
Bella said: “We play games, football and PlayStation at the club and just chill out.”
YOPEY was started by former national newspaper journalist Tony Gearing and has been praised by national leaders.
Tony said: “The role young carers perform places immense strain on children even when they have one family member to look after.
“Bella is a carer for three people. She also helps others at school and is an online mentor. Her giving is incredible. Thankfully she is getting some support.”
This year’s YOPEY is being sponsored by Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service, Central Bedfordshire Council, Atlas Converting Equipment of Kempston,Movianto of Bedford, William Jackson Food Group, which includes Parripak in Chicksands, and Carlisle Managed Solutions.
> Do you know a young person, or group of young people, who deserve a YOPEY?
To nominate logon to yopey.org or write, enclosing an SAE, to YOPEY, Woodfarm Cottage, Bury Road, Stradishall, Newmarket CB8 8YN for paper entry form.
Nominations close on January 14, 2014 and the awards ceremony will be held in Bedfordshire next spring.