Up to 50 young carers who spend much of their spare time looking after parents, family members or siblings, are to be treated to specially-arranged respite breaks after a generous donation.
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 young carers away each weekend to Northumberland, allowing them to spend time away with friends and ‘be children’.
The breaks are being funded by a £9,000 donation from The Bernicia Foundation.
The short breaks will include social and outdoor activities, and are very much needed given some young carers can spend up to 100 hours per week looking after relatives at home as well as going to school.
Sarah Rowntree, community development lead at Hartlepool Carers, said: “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.
“It’s so important that they’re allowed to be children no matter what age, and the donation from The Bernicia Foundation will enable them to be just that. It’s just fantastic and it’s appreciated by not just us, but the families too.”
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 problems at home, she has benefitted from the organisation’s after-school and holiday clubs, as well as making new friendship groups.
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.
It has awarded £577,000 since its launch and a further £200,000 to local authorities’ Emergency Covid Fund over the last two years.