Sue Lawrence

Sue Lawrence
Sue Lawrence

Story & photos: Douglas Johnson

Looking back on it, Sue's always been a carer. The eldest of five children, she soon started helping out with her younger siblings. With her dad working full-time, her mum was left in the traditional role of looking after relatives. Sue helped out and gradually took on more and more.

Now her own mother is elderly, partially blind and moving in and out of dementia. She battled to get her mum a house close by and provides daily care.

At the age of 36, her son Ben was born. At 9 months, her health visitor raised concerns about his development. “It was a shock, but I knew in the back of my mind from day one really.” He has a rare condition called Soto's syndrome. It's meant solid work as a carer for Ben too, attending to every detail of his life. Ben is now 16 and goes to East Hill School, but they are facing the challenge of arranging a place in college.

Sue has become highly experienced – dealing with social services, benefits, education provision, etc – but it wasn't always like that. She felt on her own when Ben was first diagnosed. Dealing with everything – practically as well as emotionally – was a lot to cope with.

She talks about some of the wonderful people who have helped her along the way – the health visitors, Dr McCullough at Pitsmoor surgery, the staff at Ryegate Children's Centre, Betty Gelsthorpe at Ivy Lodge Clinic, Pippa at Burngreave Young Children's Centre, Keith Jenkins at East Hill School and John Lawson at the Carers' Centre are just a few of the names mentioned.

Has it taken a toll on her? She's done the sums and the money works out at a mere pound an hour. Anti-depressants have helped. She's learnt to cope, though, and is obviously very experienced at it. She knows when she needs time out and how to plan for it.

This document was last modified on 2007-06-06 17:13:34.