A TEENAGER is encouraging people to do more to support the siblings of seriously ill children.

Emily Morris, 15, from West Swindon, spoke at a House of Lords reception at the end of May as part of a campaign by the Rainbow Trust Children Charity. This aims to highlight the importance of supporting the siblings of children who have life-threatening or terminal illnesses.

Emily’s brother Ben, 18, was born with spinal muscular atrophy which means he is unable to walk or sit up unaided, or move his limbs.

“I wanted to spread awareness of siblings with disabled family members, to try to make people understand what it’s like,” said Emily. “Your family situation is a lot different to most. I want people to understand that it’s not just the disabled child and their parents who need help. It’s the siblings who are also affected by the situation.”

She added: “It is very stressful and very infuriating sometimes.

“It can be challenging because you don’t know what the next day is going to be like. For all I know I could wake up and my whole family have gone to hospital because my brother is suddenly ill, and I don’t know what is going on.”

Emily spoke to an audience of roughly 30, following the publication of the Rainbow Trust’s report, ‘See Us, Hear Us, Notice Us’ at the end of last year. This sets out why support for siblings should be prioritised and given more funding by the government.

“It was terrifying, to be honest, I was very anxious before I had to speak. But you kind of just act like you know what you're doing even when you don’t,” said Emily.

“I want people to realise that siblings do matter. It is degrading when you feel forgotten about because it is always about the disabled child.

“I want people to realise that siblings do go through a lot, though you sometime have to hide it,” she added.

The family have been supported by the Rainbow Trust’s South West Care Team over the years.

This provides family support workers when needed for practical and emotional support, as well as organising days out for Emily to spend time with other siblings in a similar situation.

Doug Morris, Emily’s dad, said: “I’ve always described the charity as a fourth emergency service. There have been times when Ben has been very unwell and in hospital for two or three weeks, when we needed some logistical help with Emily. The Rainbow Trust has always stepped up to the plate and offered that flexible, non-judgmental service, that sometimes you feel the social services can’t offer.”

He added: “As these siblings grow up, they have all the normal teenage issues too. Piling on the stresses of a disabled brother or sister doesn’t help and people need to recognise that they need help too.”