Call to help young Flintshire carers feeling the strain

Reporter:

Matt Jones

TEENAGERS Ryan Bell and Hannah Templeton are among more than 5,000 young people in Flintshire who go above and beyond in caring for their family.

Children as young as five face the difficult task of caring for family members and many suffer at school and are faced with little or no social life.

Now children’s charity Barnardo’s is calling for increased help and awareness as more than 200 young carers attended a conference in Mold on Friday.

Ryan, 15, from Connah’s Quay, helps his parents care for his autistic younger brother while he studies for his GCSEs.

He said: “Caring for my brother takes most of my week. It is difficult on my social life. I don’t have friends around. It can be frustrating but I love my brother.

“It is hard because you balance your study life with caring. You lose out on your childhood.”

Ryan, who is chair of Flintshire’s Young Carers’ forum helped organise Young Carers Celebration Day at Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold which was opened by Hollyoaks actress and former Brookside star Alex Fletcher.

He said: “Awareness needs to be raised because a lot of young people do not know how to get support. Young carers need more help and recognition.”

During the conference calls were made for a National Young Carers Strategy, discounts for leisure activities, ID cards and training.

Hannah Templeton, 16, a student at Deeside College, looks after her mother who suffers from depression.

She said: “When she has her down days it is very difficult. It made studying for my CGSEs difficult. You have to guide yourself as there can be no one there to guide
you.

“We love to spend time with our families but you need your own space.”

Sarah Matthews, Barnardo's Cymru Manager, said there are more than double the 2,500 young carers identified in Flintshire during the 2001 Census and even more are being called on to help parents with drug or alcohol misuse problems.

She said: “Caring for a family member can take an emotional toll on a young person, no matter how much they love their family and want to help.

“Teachers are sometimes not aware why they are late for school, are tired or have not done their homework.

“We must not see young carers cast adrift in the age of austerity and urge councils to be careful when cutting budgets. Young carer services and support will be particularly vulnerable to cuts.”

See full story in the Leader

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