Help at hand for young Sheffield carers

Sheffield Young Carers at the Herdings centre in Sheffield

Sheffield Young Carers at the Herdings centre in Sheffield

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Learning to work the washing machine at the age of four, and making sure mum takes her medication before setting off to school, are hardly hallmarks of a traditional childhood.

But that is the reality for thousands of children in Sheffield caring for parents with long-term illness, mental health problems and physical disability.

Now the group which supports this army – Sheffield Young Carers – has just been awarded £69,756 to ensure it can help the youngest batch for the next three years.

Cash from BBC Children in Need will fund a support worker specially-assigned to work with eight to 12-year-olds.

Katy Boland said: “We start our work officially with children from eight years old, but when we speak to our young people a lot have been caring since the age of four or five.

“Recently I was talking to one of our girls who said she learned to work the washing machine when she was four because she had to.

“That’s why what our support worker, Sue Hale, does is so important. She goes to homes or schools and has a one-to-one with children. Half the time they don’t even know they’ve taken on the role of a carer.

“We’re delighted to get this grant.”

The council recently estimated there are around 2,000 young carers in the city.

But Sheffield Young Carers, one of the few avenues of support available for eight to 21-year-olds looking after their parents, believes that figure could be closer to 6,000.

Social outings and activities are designed to give carers some elements of a childhood they might miss out on.

The group also teaches practical skills such as first aid and meal preparation.

Elizabeth Myers, BBC Children in Need’s regional manager, said: “Funding projects like the Sheffield Young Carers will go on to make a real difference to the lives of disadvantaged young people in the area.”

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