A team of school ambassadors have been recruited to ensure Sunderland’s young carers receive the support they require in their studies.
Sunderland Carers Centre has spent the last two months enlisting 15 young carers and 15 adults who are involved in education, to make and maintain relationships with schools and help them to identify and support any young carers they have.
The Young Carer Ambassadors will act as the voice of young carers and any other carers at the school, such as staff and parents, within their chosen schools. They will provide support to the young carer, act as a sounding board for the school, prepare and deliver assemblies and promote awareness raising events.
Sunderland Carers Centre Deputy Chief Executive, Amanda Brown, said:
“We seize every opportunity to empower our young carers and harness their passion and drive and it has been fantastic to see so many keen to take up this role as a Young Carer Ambassador.”
“The young people and adults in the programme will form a team, which will work with schools to secure positive change across education and ensure young carers are better identified and adequately supported. Each ambassador will be responsible for a single school and choose from a range of activities they think will work best in that particular environment.”
Sunderland Carers Centre is one of five carer organisations selected by the Carers Trust to pilot the Young Carer Ambassadors programme across the UK.
14 year old Dru Williams, from Houghton, helps care for her mother who suffers from mental illness. She said:
“I’m preparing a school assembly that I’ll be giving in front of 200 people so it’s really scary, but it’s also really good as it helps get the word out about young carers and the different things they have to go through.”
“I am really nervous, but I know that it’s a really important project and I’m really pleased that I’ve been selected as an ambassador.”
The project is being overseen and managed by Sue Callaghan, Sunderland Carers Centre Activity Lead, who said:
“By reflecting on and drawing from their own personal experiences, the ambassadors will be able to empathise and increase support for other young carers.”
“Schools are mostly incredibly responsive to the needs of young carers, but the ambassadors will ensure that there is an on-the-spot point of contact, should the school require any guidance or the young carer need any support…and we have recruited some incredible ambassadors, so I’m certain this project will prove a huge success.”
The Young Carer Ambassador pilot will last until April and during this time the new recruits will attend a training session, meet with their support worker and get together with the other ambassadors to share ideas and success stories.
The Young Carer Ambassadors will also form a key component in Sunderland Carers Centre’s marking of national Young Carer Awareness Day, where they will present to visitors to the centre throughout an open day event on January 31.
Sue added: “Nobody can express the experiences of a young carer quite like someone who is going through or has gone through a period of time performing the role, so who better to explain to people what they do, how we can help and why people, schools and businesses need to be aware of meeting the needs of carers.”
Sunderland’s caring statistics…
In Sunderland, there are over 32,500 identified carers. Of those, an estimated 2,407 are young carers.
Over 9,000 carers have made contact with Sunderland Carers Centre (around 28%), of those, 731 of are Young Carers (30%) and 2,700 access services regularly (2017/18).
In the last financial year alone (2017/18) we have 1,127 new carer referrals
- 787 adult carers
- 180 young carers
- 160 parent cares