New service launched to give young Bath carers support
Work to support an army of young carers in the Bath area is being transferred to a new charity.
As well as supporting the 20,000 adult carers living in Bath and north east Somerset, the Carers' Centre is now gearing up to help youngsters aged from five to 18 who look after family members.
A new £215,000 four-year contract with Bath and North East Somerset Council will see the charity taking over work previously done by Off the Record.
Carers' Centre spokesman David Trumper said: "We are delighted that we can now help whole families in a caring situation.
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"Together with partners, health teams, schools and the whole community, we will make sure young carers are listened to and receive the help they need."
The charity will help youngsters to enjoy festivals, sport events and regular clubs, as well as family breaks.
The centre also runs a freephone helpline staffed by trained volunteers, and offers expert help with getting into training, university and employment for young adult carers aged 18 to 25.
There are estimated to be 175,000 young carers in the UK, with an average age of 12, but many as young as five. They may help look after a relative who is sick or disabled, or someone who has mental health or severe drug or alcohol problems.
The council's decision-making panel, which included young people, praised the centre's approach to helping young carers from black and ethnic minority groups. The young people involved also particularly liked the work of the centre's volunteer drivers helping people in more isolated areas to get to events and activities.
Mitch Gregory, a young carer who looks after his mother and sister, has found work with help from the centre.
The 21-year-old has a first class degree in management systems and works as a junior IT technician at Frome Community College.
He said: "I'm so used to being a carer now I couldn't cope if things were different.
"I don't go to the pub all the time like my friends or sit in front of the TV.
"There isn't time. No one looking at me can realise what life is like for me as a carer."
Off the Record is now working on a smooth transfer of services so the young people involved do not go through too much disruption.
Meanwhile, OTR has just secured some Comic Relief funding to carry out new domestic violence awareness support work in partnership with Julian House.