NORTH Oxfordshire MP Sir Tony Baldry marked Carers Rights Day by launching a new course aimed at easing the burden of some of the county’s thousands of young adult carers.

An estimated 11,000 young carers in Oxfordshire manage their schooling, jobs and even other siblings alongside the care of an ill or dependent relative. Now a new course – Who Cares? – aims to boost their confidence and develop ambitions for the future.

Young carer Sarah Churchill, 20, of Oxford, was alongside Sir Tony when he launched the initiative at the Bicester Hub in Launton Road, yesterday.

She said: “I have been caring for my dad Graham Churchill since I was about four. He has a nerve condition which causes paralysis and has had four strokes, the latest in September.

“I’m really looking forward to joining the Who Cares? course.

“Apart from volunteering for a short time each week I spend all my time looking after my dad.

“Hopefully the course will give me advice on how I might eventually have a career in acting or in the police force, as well as helping me to make more friends.”

Spurgeons Young Carers Service Oxfordshire, based in Yarnton and funded by the county council, has been awarded £40,000 by the Skills Funding Agency as part of the new Community Learning Innovation Fund, to deliver the training course.

During five, two-and-a-half hour sessions, the young carers will receive advice in understanding their emotions, building a support network of other young carers and achieving more of a balance between their caring commitments and their own interests.

Sir Tony said: “Young carers have to very often cope with the incredible pressures of having to effectively accept responsibility of looking after a parent and yet at other times having to revert to being a child accepting their mum or dad’s parental authority.

“It is not easy being a young carer. Very often you don’t want to tell your friends or teachers at school that your mum or dad is not well or in long-term difficulty so it can be very lonely. This course at the Bicester Hub is aimed at giving young carers the sorts of skills that will help them be effective young carers.”

Catherine Blaxhall, carers support service manager for Carers Oxfordshire, which is working with Spurgeons to refer young carers to the course, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for young adult carers to develop confidence, make new friends and be supported to reach their potential.”

l Who Cares? is free to carers aged 18-25 and will run at three locations across the county for five weeks beginning in January, March and May 2013. For more information, phone 01865 309602 or email