Mother who cares for OCD son tells of isolation as Camden launch social equality taskforce

A carer has told of the haunting isolation she feels looking after her son without a strong network to support her.

Grace, who is in her early 70s and lives in Chalk Farm, has spent her life caring for her son, Charlie, who was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder as a child.

Now 37 and living in West Hampstead, Charlie relies on his mother for most of his contact with the outside world.

The pair take frequent trips to the end of Tube lines on the London Underground to sooth Charlie’s anxiety and he otherwise does not mix very much.

In a candid interview with the Young Foundation, Grace told of the isolation she and her son suffer.

“Loneliness is a big issue for both Charlie and Grace,” explained the interviewer.

“Charlie spends a lot of his time on his own or with one or two people. He has very few friends, and sadly his two closest friends from childhood and school have since died.

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“Grace feels lonely, not through lack of human contact, but because she feels people do not understand her situation.

“She feels isolated from her friends and relies on keeping in touch with a few good friends via letter. She worries about being a burden.”

Grace summed this up herself when she told the interviewer: “My husband calls them ‘friendships in suspension’, they are still there”.

The biggest support for Grace would be some respite from caring for Charlie, but rules dictate this can only be given if Charlie asks for it himself, which is unlikely given his condition.

The dilemmas facing Grace are just some of the heart-wrenching cases raised in the Young Foundation’s report on the impact of cuts on vulnerable people living in Camden.

Commissioned by Camden Council as part of a planned three year project tracking the impact of budget cuts on vulnerable residents, the council hopes the research will help them shape services and tackle social inequality.

Speaking at the report’s launch at Friends Meeting House in Euston Road on Tuesday (July, 3) Vicki Sellick, from the Young Foundation, said many people are struggling to cope with benefit cuts and service closures.

She said: “It is fair to say that we felt this palpable tension when we sent to observe family lives. There really was this sense of overwhelming pressure, a sense there was an imperfect storm.”

The project is set to cost �20,000.