Ex-JLS star in young carers plea
Published 01/07/2014 | 00:07
Ex-JLS star Oritse Williams has told how he shunned fast cars and grand houses and used the money generated from the success of the boyband to take care of his mother.
Oritse, 27, whose mother has multiple sclerosis, is calling on more to be done for young carers.
The singer has looked after his mother since the age of 12, when she was diagnosed with the illness shortly after collapsing on the floor of the shower.
Oritse, who had two younger siblings and whose father was not around, told Radio Times magazine: "I heard a crash from the bathroom. I had to pick the lock with a coin and mum was lying on the floor. I was terrified. I remember calling an ambulance and praying she would be OK.
"I went from having a mum who would kick a ball in the park to one who couldn't get downstairs by herself."
Oritse, who meets young carers in a new Channel 4 documentary, said: "Every morning I'd help mum down the stairs and make her breakfast, then take my sister to school. After school I would do the food shopping and cook dinner for everyone before looking after mum's needs."
JLS split last year after selling 10 million albums around the world.
But Oritse, who put the band together, said: "I haven't made a crazy amount of money, but I've made enough to give her the best care possible and that's all that matters.
"Money is what it is, it comes, it goes. When you've seen what I've seen it changes your perspective. My focus isn't fast cars and big houses; I'd rather use my money to take care of my family."
He said: "Mum instilled in all of us that we could do anything, so in my mind I thought I could cure her.
"My brother and I came up with this plan - I would make money from music and he would become a scientist. That way we would have the means and ability to find a cure - although now I know it's a bit more complicated than that."
The documentary Britain's Youngest Carers was two years in the making and was his idea.
"There is this silent army of young people out there and we know nothing about them..." Oritse said. "It's a problem in our society and something needs to be done. We need to have a conversation about it rather than turning away."