Real Lives

Royal recognition for teen Hero Keah

Keah Donolon

In the face of adversity, Keah, a 19-year-old Care and Support Assistant, is truly phenomenal.

When she isn’t looking after her mum at home, she’s either studying at college to become a nurse, working part time at Sanctuary Supported Living’s Shaftesbury Court in Trowbridge, or helping other young carers in her area.

Keah had always helped care for her dad who had long-term illness, but in 2019 her mum was admitted to hospital with a brainstem bleed, before she contracted a serious case of pneumonia. In tragic circumstances, whilst Keah’s mum was in the Intensive Care Unit, Keah’s dad sadly passed away. Since then, from the age of just 17 Keah has been a full-time carer.

She said: “At first, I didn’t really consider myself to be a young carer. I accepted that it was normal to have this much responsibility and just got on with it. But when I weigh it all up – there is a lot going on. I help mum with her personal care, and jobs around the house like cooking and cleaning. However, nothing has stopped me from pursuing my dreams. I’m studying for a Level 3 NVQ in Health and Social Care at college, and I have a part time job that I love.”

Keah applied for a Bank Care and Support Assistant position at Shaftesbury Court in 2021 so she could use her knowledge and practical skills to help others with support needs to live fulfilling lives.

Shaftesbury Court is a residential care home where adults aged 18 to 65, who have a range of learning disabilities and physical disabilities are supported around their own home to live as independently as possible.

Keah added: “Helping my mum recover from her stroke gave me the courage to apply for a job in adult social care, and I’m proud to be making a difference in peoples’ lives every day. I make people smile, and that makes me smile. And although my responsibilities at work are like my responsibilities at home, it’s nice to get out of the house, and to see my colleagues. We’re a great team at Shaftesbury Court.”

Local Service Manager of Shaftesbury Court, Tina Skuse, said: “We’re extremely proud of Keah. She is generous, caring, and compassionate – all those qualities that you need to excel in social care. Her perseverance and strong social conscience is inspiring to all of us. She is an absolute asset to the team.”

Resident Wayne added: “Keah is really fun to be around. We love celebrating the holidays through the year, and Keah goes the extra mile to make it special for us.”

Keah also volunteers on her local Young Carers council. She said: “I’m very keen to help other young carers, as there are so many out there. And lots of them are younger than me! I raise awareness about the issues that young carers face and what my life is like being a carer, so that others know they’re not alone.”

Each year, BBC Radio 1 celebrates Teen Heroes – young people who make the world a better place – and Keah was surprised live on air by Breakfast presenter, Greg James with the award, after being nominated by her auntie. Since winning the award, she has enjoyed a visit to Kensington Palace to meet HRH Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, as well as receiving personal messages from former One Direction member, Niall Horan and members of the Holby City cast.

To find out more about Sanctuary Supported Living’s accommodation, care and support services for people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and autism, visit www.sanctuary-supported-living.co.uk.

Edel Harris

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