Give a helping hand to young carers

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West Sussex County Council is appealing for volunteers who can help young carers access the opportunities and support that many others take for granted.

Could you spare one evening a week to provide them with transport to their local youth group during term time?

A young carer is someone who takes on responsibilities at home because someone in their family has a disability, has been ill for a long time, experiences mental ill health or has a problem linked to drugs or alcohol.

Keith Gurney has been a transport volunteer in Worthing for the last eighteen months and volunteers one night every week.

“During the journey we chat about their friends and school – or anything they may want to talk about.

“I would strongly recommend volunteering to anyone who has a few hours a week to spare and the desire to help young people who are perhaps not having the easiest of times growing up.

“It has certainly helped me to understand some of the pressures these young people live with.”

Caring responsibilities can put a significant strain on a young person, affecting their school attendance, achievements and future prospects.

Taking part in social activities and meeting other young carers can offer a valuable outlet, allowing them to build self-esteem, make friends and try new things.

Julie Baldwin, who started volunteering in February, said: “It’s quickly become an enjoyable part of my weekly routine.

“If you are thinking of volunteering but still unsure, my advice would be to go for it.”

Peter Evans, county council cabinet member for children – start of life, added: “Thanks to our transport volunteers young carers can take a break from the responsibilities they have at home, even if it’s just for a couple of hours, which can make a huge difference to their overall wellbeing.”

Volunteers must have a full driving licence and their own fully-insured car. They will need good communication skills and must be sensitive to the needs of young carers.

They will also require a criminal records check with the Disclosure and Barring Service and must provide two references.

Full training is provided, travel costs and agreed out of pocket expenses will be reimbursed.

If you think you could help a young carer and would like further information please call 01903 270300 or email FRT&YC.Admin@westsussex.gov.uk

The closing date for applications is Tuesday September 30, 2014.