Jake, 18, from Cardiff, is one the UK’s 700,000 young people that care for a family member. Despite the challenges of caring for his mum, who has limited mobility due to a stroke she suffered as a child and holding down a full time job, Jake developed an app to help other young cares like him.
“I’ve been a young carer since I was around seven years old. My mum had a stroke when she was just 10 years old and she was told she’ll never be able to walk, work or have children.
“She proved everybody wrong though and even though she had limited mobility, she managed to raise five children and become a fully qualified teaching assistant.
“At first her stroke only caused damage to the right side of her body, but over the years it got progressively worse and she’s now in a wheelchair and had to give up work.
“As the second oldest son in my family, I had to take on quite a few tasks to help mum on a day to day basis. Anything from food shopping, household chores, helping out with my younger siblings and helping her get around. It made it harder for me to get into training and employment or do things other young people normally do.
“Because I was a young carer I started going to YMCA Cardiff’s young carers project where I met other young people like me and took part in many projects.
“One of them was a cooking scheme where we showed other young carers that cooking can be fun, easy and cheap. As a young carer you often have to help out with cooking and we thought it’d be great to create a cookbook to make it a little easier.
“The cookbook got through to the Money for Life Welsh National Finals, but unfortunately we didn’t win.
“I really wanted to push the idea further and reach more young carers, so I came up with the idea to make the cookbook into a free cooking app. It was important to me that the app was free, because money is often an issue when you’re a young carer.
“I received a £1,000 legacy grant but it was really difficult to find someone that could develop an app within the budget I had. I did a lot of research and found a small company that was willing to help. The process wasn’t easy, especially because I was still caring for my mum and working full time, but I learnt a lot of new things along the way including planning, coding, design, communication and much more. The hard work paid off and I finally managed to launch ‘Starter Chef’ last year.
“The app is still in the early stages but I hope that it will make life a little easier for people, especially for young carers. Life can be difficult but I’ve learnt that you can always push yourself and strive for the best to achieve more.”