23 April 2021


The hidden carers

by Maggie Cascioli

When John was five he went almost every evening to the local shop and, with considerable skill, took bread, butter, crisps…He occasionally stole cold meats but very rarely sweets. The elderly shop owner, intrigued by what John stole  began to watch him carefully. Gradually he realised that John was hungry, that he never stole anything which needed opening or cooking. The owner also thought that, given the amount stolen, John was probably stealing food for others as well as for himself. 

When the shop owner eventually contacted Social Services, they discovered that John and his two younger siblings lived with their Grandmother. She was not deliberately unkind but she was an alcoholic so after buying her essentials there was very little left for necessities like food.

There are, I suspect, many children, people like John who quietly take on the care of others.

There have always been ‘hidden’ carers, many of them family members, sometimes children: teenagers who long before ‘lock down’ delivered papers but who now deliver shopping to their  neighbours; the shop assistant who puts aside milk and the paper for an elderly customer; the woman who ‘gossips’ through the window with her shielding neighbour; the mother who schools her children, cooks, cleans and still ‘works from home’…

Let us pray...

We pray for all those who, like Saint Joseph, care for others quietly and unobtrusively…
For those who put their own needs after those of others…
For those whose actions and words  oil the  wheels of our society
For all those who are unobtrusively kind
May they find the energy to continue to do this
Pour out on them your grace and peace
We ask this through Christ our Lord... Amen.

Maggie is a retired English and RS teacher, school chaplain, and member of Pastoral Team at Aylesford Priory