A young carer is someone under the age of 18 who helps look after someone in their family or a friend who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. There are about 700,000 young carers in the UK, which is about one in 12 secondary aged pupils. Many young carers find it difficult to juggle their education and caring responsibilities, which in turn can cause pressure and stress. It’s important for young carers to get time to themselves, where they can forget about their responsibilities and do something fun with other people their age.
The Jack Petchey Foundation supports a number of young carer organisations including the Young Carers Project at Carers Support Merton. Last year, they used a £750 Jack Petchey Foundation Small Grant to fund an activity-filled, seaside trip to Bournemouth for 15 young carers and their families.
The Young Carers Project was able to apply for this grant after Monique Smart was presented with a Jack Petchey Foundation Leader Award. This award gives young people the opportunity to recognise the hard work of the leaders that work with them. Monique is a dedicated member of the Young Carers Support team; here are just some of the nominations she received:
D, aged 17 said, “I've been coming to Young Carers since I was 7 and Monique has always been there for me. She is a kind, caring person who takes her time to listen and speak to Young Carers if they come to her.”
J, aged 16 said, “Monique is a helpful and dedicated worker who takes her time to inspire others to follow the right path through life no matter the issues they face.”
On August 19th, the group left for Bournemouth early in the morning and travelled together on a coach, with the young people excitedly singly along to the radio throughout the journey. When they arrived they were greeted with sunny weather and crowds of people waiting for the Bournemouth Air Festival to begin.
The families enjoyed playing games on the beach, swimming in the sea, watching the impressive air show and spending quality time with each other. Since the young carers easily engaged with each other, parents and carers were encouraged to talk to each other, helping to forge new friendships between their families.
The trip was a hit with both the young people and the adults, with one parent saying, “It was fantastic! I spent time with my daughter on the beach and playing aquatic games, that place is amazing and I would like to go back” with another adding, “I was able to spend time with my son. My daughter has severe learning difficulties and going out can be stressful. I really enjoyed the trip.”
One young person said “We sat on the beach building sand castles. It was so relaxing, and we watched the planes from the air show which was interesting and entertaining and educational.”
The trip made a real impact on everyone who attended as it gave families the chance to spend quality time together. Most families are unable to go on holiday together due to financial costs, caring responsibilities and fear of travelling to new places alone. The Small Grant and hard work of the Young Carers Project enabled whole families to attend an affordable day trip organised by people they trust, in a secure environment. For some of the young people it was the first time they had been to a beach and they enjoyed creating new memories with their family and friends.
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