Liz Church is manager of Sheffield Young Carers Project, a charity based in the city since 1997 which supports more than 90 young carers aged eight to 21 each year. The council estimates that there are at least 2,000 carers under the age of 16 in the city.
Liz has worked with young carers for 10 years and her goal is to make sure everyone in Sheffield knows about young carers and the tasks they undertake, the impact on them, their support needs and to have their voice heard.
She has lived in Heeley, her favourite place in Sheffield – “this wonderful, green, lively city” – for the last 15 years, describing herself as a true-blooded Yorkshirewoman and country bumpkin at heart.
She was drawn to Sheffield because it is very close to the Peak District, where she spends most of her free time, climbing and walking with friends.
Inspirational young carers
From our office in Sheaf Bank Business Park, we help children and young people who are caring for or looking after someone at home, who may not realise they are a young carer. They have substantial responsibility, usually for a parent or relative who has a disability, severe illness, mental health problems or substance misuse issues.
We offer support on an individual and group basis, working with other services such as schools, GPs and health, children’s and adult services to raise awareness of this vulnerable and largely unrecognised group of young people.
They are young people first, but having this role can impact on their education, for example missing school, being bullied or lacking time to socialise and make friends.
They may need support with their emotional health and their physical health can suffer if they are lifting the person the care for. It can be hard to be a young person caring, because often nobody recognises what they do and they don’t have anyone to talk to.
They can go to www.sheffieldyoungcarers.org.uk, email email@example.com or ring 2584595.
We have some great volunteers but always welcome help to enable us to raise funds, promote our service and young carers’ issues or to support young people in groups.
Blue Moon Café
Blue Moon, a veggie cafe in St James Street next to the Anglican Cathedral, has become a meeting place for friends of the Young Carers Project. We talk over the ups and downs of the opportunities for young carers in Sheffield. How we can make things happen for this under-resourced and low-profile group. We are doing it and will make it happen!
Heeley City Farm
Another of my favourite place is Heeley City Farm, the countryside inside the city. I have spent many a lunchtime talking to the sheep about our various plans. Don’t worry – none have spoken back to me yet!
Norfolk Park Edge view
I enjoy the grand view across Sheffield standing high on the edge of Norfolk Park. This is before I walk down to the station where last year we met a group of very excited young carers, backpacked and extremely happy on their way by train to our annual residential in the Hope Valley, with great anticipation of their week together, climbing and walking and breathing fresh air.
Zooby’s is in the Winter Garden and there’s nothing like their delightful cakes, funky music and chilling time among the exotic trees – you may spot young carers gathering for one of their social groups.
I know this seems a strange thing to identify as a favourite place as it is not in ‘one place’.
Since I recently acquired a bright pink retro-mountain bike from Recycle-Heeley Development Trust, I fly around the city on my bike to meetings, avoiding hills and busy roads, feeling like a kid again!
I do have to relax and enjoy life, so you may find me sitting in the Showroom Cinema in Paternoster Row in the city enjoying a good film.
I took a group of young carers on a trip to Edale in the Peak District.
We caught the train at the station, and it wasn’t long before the grey buildings gave way to the green countryside. I could see the shock on their faces. “So much green,” they said.
There were six people between 16 and 18, who had never been out into the country before. The joy and happiness in their voices was such a pleasure.
We split up at the station in Edale; three wanted to catch the bus to Castleton and three wanted to walk over the tops with me.
I felt as excited as them and so pleased that they also loved the place where the sky meets the hilltops on Mam Tor.
We all caught the bus back to Sheffield feeling tired and very happy, full of ice-cream and sticky buns!
Finally, I have a love of most parts of this old and new city, not only the places but the people who are so friendly and warm. I feel happy to say I am a Sheffielder!