“Too often, young carers can feel socially isolated and invisible,” said Kathryn Sobczak – who was a former young carer herself but now runs a programme to help them.
She continued: “It took me a long time to realise I was a young carer. If I had known that other people were going through the same thing, it would have reassured me that I wasn’t alone. Whether your caring for parents siblings, family members we all do the same job, it’s about supporting each other.”
Kathryn is co-ordinator of the Ealing Young Carers project, commissioned by Ealing Council and run by Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. It offers respite to young people living in Ealing who are looking after a relative in a caring capacity.
Young Carers Awareness Day was marked by the trust last week (Thursday, 30 January), with an event at the council’s Horizons Education and Achievement Centre in Cherington Road, Hanwell.
It was attended by councillors Simon Woodroofe and Hitesh Tailor, who tried their hand at pizza making and table tennis with the young carers.
With 700,000 young carers living in the UK, the Ealing Young Carers project helps carers between eight and 18 years old to socialise, learn new skills and gain in confidence. Along with one-to-one mentoring, the project offers a wide range of activities including: After-school homework clubs; lunchtime clubs; fortnightly youth clubs; fortnightly swimming clubs; and day trips.
“It was good to see first-hand the young carers’ activities in Hanwell,” said Councillor Tailor. “The young people enjoyed the time spent there and it offered them an opportunity to relax with friends without any worries. A parent I spoke to on the night, explained how she felt the sessions had improved the general wellbeing of her young son.”
Councillor Woodroofe agreed, and said: “I certainly had a very positive impression of the activities in the centre.”
Since the project has been commissioned to the Trust, participation has gone from 25 young carers to nearly 200.
If you know a young person who could benefit from the Young Carers programme you can contact Kathryn at firstname.lastname@example.org