Special week for unsung heroes

From: Helen Mather

Fundraising Officer, Sheffield Young Carers Project

I AM writing because this week is special to more than 2,000 unsung heroes in Sheffield. 13-19 June is Carers’ Week – but I bet most Sheffielders don’t know that around one in 12 children and young people in this city take on a substantial unpaid caring role for a member of their family due to illness, disability or a mental health or substance misuse problem. And some are as young as eight years old.

Sheffield’s young carers give practical, physical and emotional care – responsibilities that can include taking charge of the family budget, shopping and washing a loved one; administering medication and providing emotional support. The crushing impact of these responsibilities can leave young carers feeling isolated, depressed and cut off from the joys and carefree days that characterise childhood for most of us. They may miss out on schooling, sometimes resulting in lower educational attainment and fewer opportunities to flourish later in life.

Sheffield Young Carers Project (SYCP) is a charity that supports young carers aged 8-21 years across Sheffield, by giving practical and emotional support. We provide group activities for young carers to get together, have a break from caring, learn new skills and just relax and have fun. We also offer one to one support so young carers can access a listening ear and talk through their own unique situation. And not forgetting our residential breaks for walking, swimming and other fun activities.

In 2011-12, it will cost SYCP around £200,000 to give more young carers than ever before the support they need to increase their confidence and wellbeing, leading to a better life.

If you would like to give Sheffield’s young carers your support, call 0114 258 4595 or visit www.sheffieldyoungcarers.org.uk to make a donation or find out more.