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Young carers let their hair down
2:00pm Monday 21st May 2012 in Oxford
HUNDREDS of children who care for sick relatives converged on Marlborough School in Woodstock to enjoy a well-earned day of fun and games.
The children were attending the Big Event, which was organised by Spurgeons Young Carers Service and Oxfordshire County Council, to recognise the youngsters’ often thankless role in caring for their loved ones.
There are an estimated 11,000 young carers across Oxfordshire and a recent BBC survey of 4,000 schoolchildren revealed that one in 12 has caring responsibilities.
Many care for relatives or siblings who have a physical illness or disability.
Some deal with loved ones’ mental health problems or even a dependency on drugs or alcohol.
And like Harry Moody, 11, from Carterton, 56 per cent of young carers also live in single-parent families.
Carterton Community College pupil Harry is a carer for his older brother Charlie, 14, who has cystic fibrosis, which clogs his lungs with thick sticky mucus, making it hard for him to breathe and digest food.
Harry was among the throng of young carers who attended the Big Event. He said: “Charlie needs a lot of my mum’s time and I make sure I get what she needs and help Charlie when he needs it. But it is difficult as Charlie has to go into hospital sometimes and I have to go and stay with friends.
“The young carers group is great fun.
“We don’t talk about caring, we just have a good time, like when we went to see Oxford United play and got to run around the pitch at half time and at the Big Event where there were loads of things for us to do and play on.”
Harry and Charlie’s mum, Sarah, 41, said: “Being a single parent and coping with Charlie’s condition means a lot of hard work, but Harry is great at helping and I am so proud of him.
“I know he sometimes feels that he is the only one who copes with this, so it is great for him to spend time with other young carers like this, to have fun and know he is not the only one.” The Big Event saw young carers tackle horizontal bungee jumping, battle it out in huge padded sumo suits, attend mini dance classes, and get beauty treatments, among a host of other attractions.
Amber Tobin, 11, from Hook Norton, had a go at drumming and loved it. She said: “I’d never done drumming before and it was fun. I also had a go at Sumo wrestling and won!”
Amber added: “I help my mum care for my brother Lewis who is nine. He has learning disabilities and has a bad temper sometimes. I help to keep him calm and also play with him.”
The Big Event was organised by Spurgeons Young Carers Service which is funded by the county council to support young carers aged 0-25.
Spurgeons senior project worker Sarah Miles said: “The Big Event was conceived by the young carers themselves.
“This event has hopefully shown young carers there are thousands of other youngsters across the county who face similar challenges in their lives every day and that they are not alone.
“We also want them to feel it’s okay for them to have time out.
“It was a great opportunity for them to enjoy a few hours just enjoying being kids.”
For more information on help and support available to Oxfordshire’s young carers go to: spurgeons.org/spurgeons-young- carers-oxfordshire