Living with Multiple Sclerosis for the last 18 years has made me acutely aware of how much I have to rely on the support of others and for me, that’s other adults namely friends, family and colleagues. However, for an increasing of people who have to cope with some kind of mental or physical condition, the support comes from their children and that can have a significant impact on those involved. Luckily there are now fabulous organisations such as Gloucestershire Young Carers, which supports more than 100 young carers and their families.
This year the service celebrates its 25th anniversary so it was lovely to have the opportunity to chat to Jane at Gloucestershire Young Carers about the support the charity provides and what this means to the young people she comes into contact with on a daily basis.
I was quite taken back to realise that ages of young carers range from a staggering 5- 24 years old and was absolutely blown away to meet two very inspirational boys who shared their personal stories with such maturity, eloquence and honesty. In a world where young people receive a lot of negative press about their behaviour. I was both touched and humbled by their openness and respect for each other.
In a nutshell, Gloucestershire Young Carers supports young people caring for a family member who is ill, disabled, experiencing mental health or affected by substance misuse and provides emotional and practical support to the young people and their families in order to minimalise the physical and emotional impact of caring and promotes health and well being.
This support is provided in a variety of forms including short breaks, one to one support groups, counselling sessions and group support programmes. Young carers and their families have invaluable access to information and advice and the opportunity to enjoy childhood despite their challenges at home. The organisation helps young people reach their potential and thrive regardless of the challenges they face on a daily basis and above all, enables young people to have their voices heard and to help them best deal with their situations. Currently there are 18 support groups in 7 locations.
Scarily as many as one in 12 young people of school age in the UK might be a young carer for someone in their family. In Gloucestershire it’s estimated that there are more than 7000 young carers in the community. Half of these young carers are looking after their mother, one-third look after someone with mental health issues and one third look after someone with a physical disability.
Although the organisation has achieved so much in recent years and taken so many steps forward, they currently face a great deal of pressure as they prepare to submit their re-tender for the service they provide; “identification and assessment by giving a voice and emotional support to young people.”
Fundamentally the charity gives young people a voice by putting vulnerable young people and their needs firmly at the heart of the organisation. Each situation referred to the Young Carers is assessed and needs are identified but there is little funding to implement the recommendations. On top of the tender, the charity needs £220,000 more in order to do so.
You can help by following, supporting and fundraising as well as spreading the word and raising awareness about the charity to friends, family, clubs and companies. Upcoming events include the annual Fun Day on Sunday 19th August sponsored by Mid Counties Co-Operative at Newlands Park in Cheltenham. There is also a further fundraising event planned at Berkley Castle in September. I for one will definitely be heading down there to support and really hope that you will join me! You can sign up to receive all the latest news on how you can support the charity by clicking here.