'Remarkable' young Hartlepool carers to enjoy deserved breaks
Up to 50 young carers who spend much of their spare time looking after relatives are to receive deserved breaks.
Staff from Hartlepool Carers, which supports more than 300 local children and teenagers aged from 5-17 years old, are now planning to take groups of four youngsters away each weekend to Northumberland, allowing them to spend time away with friends and “be children”, following a £9,000 grant from The Bernicia Foundation.
The short breaks will include social and outdoor activities and are very much needed given some that young carers can spend up to 100 hours per week looking after relatives at home as well as going to school.
This could include cooking, cleaning, shopping, helping family members to dress, get out of bed or be more mobile, or taking other siblings to school, all on top of their school work and own personal needs.
Sarah Rowntree, community development lead at Hartlepool Carers, explained, “The young people that we support remotely or at our centre vary in age and level of assistance depending upon their family circumstances.
"For some this may be providing emotional support and meeting friendship groups, getting help with homework, having access to computers, or taking some time out to relax after school.
"For others it could be supporting with food supplies, counselling and therapy, or additional social care depending upon their relative’s disabilities or lifestyle needs.
"However, all are incredible, positive individuals who are a joy to know and who are coping very well, doing a remarkable role on a day-to-day basis.
“Having the ability to take them away in small groups on short, organised breaks will allow us to go that extra mile and give them a sense of escapism that many so often need.”
Ebony Brown, 16, is one of many teenagers who attend Hartlepool Carers’ Lowthian Road centre for additional one-to-one support.
As well as helping out a family member with health issues at home, she has benefitted from the organisation’s after-school and holiday clubs.
She said: “Myself and my brothers have been coming here since 2015, and the support we’ve received has been amazing. To have a place to meet and talk with other people the same age, in a similar position who get it and know how you feel because they care for someone else too, is great.
“Often, you don’t actually realise how much you’re coping with as it is part of your daily routine, and you’re caring out of love.
"It’s your family, but once you realise that there’s other people who can help you too, then that makes a huge difference. Here we can talk openly about the same things and because of that, I’ve made some really good friends.”
Kevin Haddrick of The Bernicia Foundation, added, “This is a remarkable charity and we are absolutely delighted to assist them in this way.
"The support they provide is crucial, not just to the young people but to the families too, so to give them the time out they need to have fun and socialise with their friends on a mini-break is just fantastic.
The Bernicia Foundation is a £1m charitable foundation set up by North East housing association, Bernicia, to support people, projects and communities across the region.
Its latest round of funding closes to applications at midnight on Monday, December 13, and further information is available by telephoning 0344 800 380 or at www.berniciafoundation.com/ .