Studying whilst bringing up two children is a tough enough job, but add into the mix being a Carer as well, and then you start to wonder if there are enough hours in the day. However, one Stockport College learner manages all three and has now been recognised for all of her hard work after being named Carer of the Year by brain injury charity Headway.
Natasha Cassidy, who is currently studying for her Level 3 Certificate in Counselling, picked up her award at a glamourous event at The Dorchester Hotel in London after being nominated by her husband Paul, who Natasha cares for.
Speaking about the support she has received since becoming a Carer, Natasha said: “It was such a shock to be nominated by Paul as he doesn’t show any emotion but anger, I feel so appreciated! Headway is a fantastic organisation as you can see where the funding goes. Brain injuries, being the carer or survivor, are very isolating and Headway have information booklets that guide you through absolutely everything you could face. I have three of them and I still refer back to them now. It makes you realise that it’s normal and you’re not alone.”
Natasha’s husband Paul suffered a brain injury back in 2015, after being attacked on the way to his local pub after work, which caused a fractured skull and bleeding on his brain. After months in hospital Paul returned home, but the injuries he received have been very challenging for the family to overcome.
“One of the biggest challenges we have faced is Paul’s acceptance, he is struggling to accept his difficulties that have come with his brain injury and as I’m the one that has to tell him it’s not a good idea, or I don’t think he should do that, it’s me that he falls out with. This is very common but it’s also very hard. Another is his emotional flatness. He doesn’t really show much emotion but anger. That’s why I was shocked when he nominated me for the award. And also the video he did when I accepted the award brought tears to the majority of the room.”
Natasha was helped through a tough transition by Headway and to give something back she volunteered at one of their charity shops. Whilst volunteering, Natasha was inspired to study counselling, so that she can help support other families who are going through a similar situation to the one that she did.
“I absolutely love my course at Stockport College, it’s something for me! I’m not just a Mum and a Carer. I remember when Paul was in hospital and no one knew what was going to happen, I was living in ‘the unknown’ and all I wanted was someone to talk to, not someone giving their opinion, not someone telling me it will be alright, just someone to sit and listen to me. Empathy is my favourite word.”
The devotion to her family and giving back to others through her studies means life is very busy. When asked how she manages to balance being a Mum, Carer and Student, Natasha said: “It’s very demanding and often results in three hours sleep. However, by doing this course it has also made me realise that I really need to take time for me. I’ve often been referred to as the leg holding everything up. And what would happen if the leg crumbled? So I am now trying to squish in a bit more me time.”