Young carer that has cared since she was 5 graduates university
A student who was a young carer and went to 11 schools has graduated from the University of Bristol.
From the age of five Chloe Fussell helped care for her disabled siblings and terminally ill mother.
Now 24, she is working as a supply teacher before doing a teacher training course, so she can help pupils “by being the person I needed when I was younger”.
Chloe did not realise her life was different to other children’s. She had already been helping with a sibling’s epilepsy when her mother went in for a routine operation and was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“Looking back it was a lot, but I didn’t know any different,” Chloe said. “I didn’t know other kids were out playing on their bikes. I now know it wasn’t a normal way to grow up but I’ve made my peace with it.” The family made several moves across the country to access healthcare and get closer to friends and family. Tragically, Chloe’s mother passed away two years after her diagnosis, aged 38. Chloe was just nine.
For her incredible work as a young carer she won a Pride Of Somerset Youth Award. She was nominated by her father, who lives with a disability.
Chloe’s turbulent early life meant she went to six primary schools and five secondary schools – and had all but ruled out going to university.
But, having spent time at a University of Bristol summer school, she later chanced upon its Foundation in Arts and Social Sciences course.
“It was a wonderful course,” Chloe recalled. “It was a small cohort and some were 18, some were 75. It was so wholesome, I really found my feet again.”
Chloe went on to study Criminology at the University – including an exchange year in Michigan, USA.
Chloe said: “I was walking to campus one day and I had to stop and think ‘I’m living on a different continent, 3,500 miles away from the family I’ve been looking after.
“It was mind-blowing, the best of experience of my life. It made me realise there are opportunities beyond being at home.”
Chloe has spent the past nine months as a supply teacher at a Bristol school and will now study for a PGCE at the University of Bristol to be a secondary maths teacher.
She said: “It’s going to be really hard to say goodbye to the kids!
“I’m really pleased I ended up where I am. I kept stumbling until I landed. It’s been the most ridiculous, crazy journey. Eight years ago I genuinely didn’t think I’d end up anywhere, for so long it felt like the system was against me.
“I’m behind where people my age are but I feel privileged to be in the position I’m in.”
If you, or someone you know is under 18 years old and provides care or support to a family or friend because they are ill, disabled, frail or have a mental health, drug or alcohol problem then you can contact us to access help.
Call: 03456 434 435 (Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm and Saturday from 9am – 1pm)
If you provide care to a family member, friend, partner or neighbour and are aged between 18-24 you are a young adult carer. We can help you. Please visit: Young Adult Carers Ages 18-24 Years – Devon Carers or contact us:
Call: 03456 434 435 (Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm and Saturday from 9am -1pm)
[Images and content from the University of Bristol]