Helping the borough’s army of young carers

NATASHA Kirkman and Casey Pemberton may only be aged 12 and 11 respectively but they already have a huge burden of responsibility resting on their shoulders.

The girls, from Hyde, are both registered carers and help look after family members with health issues.

And the Friends of Tameside Young Carers was set up to provide support for the borough’s young carers which number 520, 100 of whom are under the age of 12.

Natasha, a pupil at Hyde Community College, has been a registered carer for her mum Natalie since she was eight ensuring she does not forget to take her medicine.

She is also helps care for six-year-old brother Jackson while her brother Jackson, 9, is also a registered carer.

Casey, a pupil at Flowery Field Primary, has been a carer for two-and-a-half years helping to look after her mother and 12-year-old brother who both have health issues.

The Friends raise between £5,000 and £6,000 each year to fund trips which last year were to Chester Zoo and Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Joyce Howarth, chair of the trustees, said: “We set up to support young carers in Tameside so they can experience the same things as their peers and not be isolated.

“By taking them on trips, we try to improve their quality of life. They are expensive and the one to Chester Zoon cost £1,700.”

The latest fundraising event was a concert by Tameside Community Voices at Holy Trinity, Stalybridge.

It was sponsored by Dukinfield ward councillors John Taylor, Jackie Lane and Brian Wild with a contribution from ward funds.

The Friends are special to Jackie who said: “I had to look after my mum from the age of three as she wasn’t well.

“I wish Joyce’s organisation had been around which would have helped me be a little girl and meet and make friends with other children.

“It is important they can be children and sometimes they can lose their childhood.”

Cllr Lane’s mother had serious mental health issues caused by domestic violence.

She continued: “I was my mum’s main carer to the day she died.

“Everything I am today, I am because of her. I was so proud of her.”

Cllr Taylor, who is also a trustee, helped set up the Friends.

He said: “I lived in care as a young boy until the age of 18 so had first-hand knowledge of the system.

“I don’t think the nation realises how many young carers there are.

“Ideally someone else should be carers, but it is to their credit they do it.”

Cllr Taylor has been involved in Tameside Council’s children’s services and helped set up the borough’s carers’ centre which, while predominantly for adults, also helped support children.

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