Summer activities offered by Crossroads Care’s Young Carers’ Project this year increased by more than 50 per cent over 2014 after it received a Recognition award, the sponsorship programme from Celton Manx.
Young Carers development worker Tim Jones said: ‘Receiving a Recognition award opened up extra opportunities for us this summer. We hold regular fortnightly sessions but the school summer holidays can be a long and sometimes isolating time for young carers, so we’re extremely grateful to Celton Manx for their support, which led to our being able to provide more activities to more Young Carers.’
With the long school break over, three Young Carers, Taylor, 11, James, 14 and Jenny 17, reflected on their time spent taking part in the activity sessions Tim led over the summer.
Taylor went on two camping trips at the Ardwhallan Outdoor Pursuits Centre and on two Laser Mayhem sessions at the South Barrule plantation. ‘It was great…and we learned how to put up our own tents,’ he said.
James managed to pack in nearly every one of the eight sessions on offer. ‘I did two camping sessions, went coasteering, gorge walking, abseiling, and went to Laser Mayhem and Ape Mann (the South Barrule adventure park). I’d been to Ape Mann before I joined Young Carers and wasn’t keen, but when I went with Young Carers, I really enjoyed it.’
Taylor said: ‘I tell everyone to give things a go once you join Young Carers, Everyone’s included, which makes it so much better.’
Central to all the activity sessions is teamwork. ‘There’s no “I” in team,’ said Taylor. ‘Even when we’re putting up our tents we have to work together.’
Like James, Jenny enjoyed a full summer. ‘I did abseiling, gorge walking and two camping trips. And what’s great about the camping trips is that they’re 24 hours out of the house, whereas the other activities are mostly just half-day sessions.’
Taylor, James and Jenny all said that as soon as Tim announces there’s to be a new session they’re first to sign up for it. ‘Before I joined Young Carers I was just hanging around and didn’t have that many friends at school but now I’ve made a lot of friends at Young Carers, and I’ve become more confident, so have made more friends at school, too,’ said James.
‘I used to be pretty shy,’ said Taylor, ‘but now I like be part of a team and having friends at Young Carers and what’s great about it is that we all look after each other.’
‘Young Carers is a bit like a family and since I’ve joined I’m a lot more outgoing,’ said Jenny, adding: ‘I’m now going in for activities at school I would never have thought of doing before.’
‘Young Carers gives you something to look forward to,’ said Taylor. ‘There’s just so much to choose from.’
Tim said: ‘Young Carers’ lifestyles are very different from those of other young people who don’t have to care for a parent or sibling. They have to mature fast and most often develop a mental age far beyond their years.’
Jenny said: ‘I think there’s a bit of the small child in all of us and the fortnightly sessions and activities over summer and Easter take you away from what’s going on at home and give you a chance to do stuff other kids are doing.’
‘Your emotions can sometimes get out of control when you have to be a carer,’ said James, who refers to looking after his sibling as ‘my job’, adding, ‘but Young Carers helps me cope at home and in other situations, too.’
Like many Young Carers, James and Taylor were sometimes bullied at school. Taylor said: ‘My mum was really sad and so was I, but when I joined Young Carers it gave me a break, made me happier and lifted me up.’
‘You can get really stressed at home,’ explained Jenny, ‘and you can feel guilty if you get angry when the person you’re caring for is in a bad mood. As I’ve got older, though, being a carer’s prepared me for life, in a way…but it’s been a high price to pay.’
Jenny has gone on to help fundraise for Young Carers. ‘Once I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do that, but now I want to give something back.’
Tim said: ‘The Young Carers’ experience is beneficial in so many ways. Along with the break it offers young carers, it inspires self confidence and teaches new skills, not just practical ones, but emotional skills, especially empathy.’
When asked what they would do were Young Carers without the funds to provide activities, all three were united in their response: ‘We’d start fundraising…especially to help the new young carers.’
James hasn’t decided what career he wants to pursue but for Taylor and Jenny being in Young Carers has helped them identify what they’d like to do. ‘Being a Young Carer has shaped my thoughts about a career and I’d like to be a psychologist,’ said Jenny.
And for Taylor?
‘I want to work for Young Carers.’
Celton Manx executive director Bill Mummery said: ‘Caring for someone has a profound effect on the carer and, in the case of Young Carers, can sometimes deny them their childhood. Crossroads Care’s Young Carers activity programme does much to redress this and support what is very much a “silent army” of young people.
‘The work of Young Carers exemplifies our Recognition sponsorship scheme which aims to invest in community projects that can help transform people’s lives and encourage them to realise their potential. We are pleased that our award has been able to make a very real difference to these young people. Their selfless contributions are an inspiration to us all.’