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Volunteer befriender helps young carer Drew take to the stage

06 June 2024

As a young carer, looking after a parent or sibling can seem like a full-time job, and it can be hard to find time to pursue interests and passions. That’s why Family Action’s Young Carers Service isn’t just there for young people when they’re in the caring role, and aims to develop all their interests – as young thespian Drew’s story illustrates.  

Drew is a young carer for his mum, who is registered blind and has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which causes shortness of breath.  

The 14-year-old had long been a member of our Leeds Young Carer’s Drop-in group when the family had to move to a new area to take advantage of a specially adapted property.  So, when his mum noticed that he was feeling anxious at school, withdrawing and spending a lot of time in his bedroom she got in touch.  

It’s such a brilliant service – people like Martin giving up their free time to help young people like my son.

Drew was matched with our volunteer befriender Martin, who supported him to explore available activities in his local community so he could develop his confidence and get him out the house.  

Mum was delighted, saying: “It’s such a brilliant service – people like Martin giving up their free time to help young people like my son. It makes a huge difference, and we are so grateful” 

The pair met every fortnight and tried activities such as climbing, bowling and golf before Drew expressed that he had a passion for drama. 

Together they explored local drama schools, and Martin arranged and supported Drew through a taster session at the Pauline Quirk Academy, which teaches the performing arts to children and young people aged 4-18 .  

It’s been really good. We have done lots of different things – which has helped my confidence.

Drew thoroughly enjoyed the session, and told us he felt like he met similar like minded young people there. Following further discussion with Martin the academy was able to offer a 50% bursary, which reduced the cost of monthly membership so Mum could afford the remaining fee.  

Drew said: “It’s been really good; its helped seeing Martin regularly as we have been able up build up a good relationship. We have done lots of different things – which has helped my confidence – and best of all I am now attending Pauline Quirk, which I didn’t even know existed before I started being supported by Martin!”  

 

There are an estimated 6.5 million carers in the UK, and of these over 400,000 are Young Carers aged 0 -24. Increasingly a caring role is being taken by children as young as five to ten years old. Without support, young carers’ educational achievement and development can be significantly affected, with little time to do homework, coursework, attend open days or socialise with friends. Help us to help more young carers reach their full potiential.