I work 18 hours a day but don't get paid a penny

Marie Nelson with her nephew Stephen Brewer who she cares for
-Credit: (Image: Marie Nelson)

A grandma is determined to keep a promise she made to her dying sister despite the “exhaustive” toll it's taking.

Marie Nelson, from Old Swan, looks after her nephew, Stephen Brewery, as he has cerebral palsy in all four limbs. The 55-year-old, now living in Breck Road, Anfield, has been caring for him since August 2020 after her sister, his mum, Linda died.

However, after years of continuing to support Stephen, 50, Marie feels “ignored and let down” by those in power. She said she “just wants to be heard” and no longer be “invisible”.

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The grandmother-of-nine told the ECHO: “I’m getting nowhere with anyone. I’m not getting any holidays, any breaks or any days off. I’m not bothered about the days off but I’m entitled to holidays. I can’t get these holidays because there is no one there to care for Stephen other than me.

“Every time I’m asked to do something, my other family members always complain my answer is ‘no’. But that’s the only answer I can give. It’s frustrating for them because I’m missing out on time with my grandchildren. The family are going to Spain for a 13th birthday and I don’t know if I’ll be able to.”

Marie works as Stephen’s carer every day from 5.30am to 8.00pm. She learnt how to care for him while Linda was still alive and now hoists him daily by herself - even though this should be done by two people.

Stephen Brewer and his aunt Marie Nelson
Stephen Brewer and his aunt Marie Nelson -Credit:Revitalise

Marie gets paid 40 hours a week for caring but said she does way more than this by the time you count shopping trips and cleaning. The mum-of-three is also the owner of The Scranary, a café on Townsend Lane, and where she would normally run the shifts she is now having to pay someone else to do so.

Stephen is booked into Southport Sandpipers for 12 days in July. However, this is costing £4,700 - a price Marie cannot afford to keep paying “by any means”.

Marie said she feels like her life has been put on hold since becoming a carer but it is a promise she is prepared to keep.

The café owner shared her experience as part of the national respite charity Revitalise’s Give Me a Break campaign. It calls on the next set of MPs to take heed of the critical state of affairs in the social care sector - in particular, the significant fall in access to respite support.

Stephen Brewer with his mum Linda who cared for him before she died
Stephen Brewer with his mum Linda who cared for him before she died -Credit:Marie Nelson

The charity claims that drastic cuts to local authority funding mean many unpaid carers are not getting “any breaks at all”. Of the 4.7 million unpaid carers in England and Wales only one in 129 are receiving respite support, a 37% fall since 2015.

Revitalise believe that what is happening now is instead of planned intervention to support caring relationships, carers are being forced to say they cannot go on before aid is offered.

Marie, agreed with this sentiment, adding: “Caring in itself is knackering. But when you’re doing it by yourself with no help, it takes its toll. It’s exhausting. It’s so frustrating because we’re looking after our loved ones and because of this, the council leave you to it. They know we can’t walk away because we are family."

A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said: “Liverpool City Council is fully committed to supporting family carers and provides respite care in several different ways to meet individual needs and circumstances. Respite care can include care services being arranged for a person in their own home to enable their carer to have a break from their caring role, and where appropriate, respite can also be arranged in a respite care setting.

“We are actively supporting Marie’s nephew by providing Direct Payments, which he uses to pay his aunt to provide his care and support. For Marie to have a break from her caring role, we have provided residential respite care away from home for her nephew and continue to work to develop contingency plans to enable Marie to plan for future breaks from her caring role."

Marie and Stephen have created a GoFundMe to help aid with their ongoing problems. You can donate to it here.

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