Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

...But Who Cares for the Carers? Fears over Funding Threat to Children's Charity

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

...But Who Cares for the Carers? Fears over Funding Threat to Children's Charity

Article excerpt

Byline: HANNAH GRAHAM Reporter hannah.graham@trinitymirror.com @HannahGraham21

BIG Lottery Fund cuts could close a centre which supports young people who sacrifice their childhood to caring for relatives.

South Tyneside Young Carers, a charity supporting children who help loved ones with serious illnesses or disabilities, is set to lose a significant portion of funding as grants from the fund end.

It's understood this could leave the service "drastically reduced", unable to provide one-to-one support in schools, and force it to cut some of its six staff members.

The fund said its grants were never intended to be a long-term income source for the project - but there is a possibility more cash could be found.

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For eight-year-old Cara Bell, STYC helped her come out of her shell - her mum Sarah suffers from MS, and helping to care for her places a heavy emotional burden on her.

But STYC's after-school group let her make friends who understood what she was coping with, while the in-school support service helped her focus on her studies when worries about her mum were getting in the way.

Sarah said: "She's having to process a lot of adult things with a child's mentality.

"When my MS causes problems, I try to get help from another adult, but if we're alone in the house and I don't have that then the next best thing is an eight-year-old girl.

"She takes that in her stride, but it does have an impact, she does miss out on things and worry an awful lot.

"It's an awful lot of pressure, but the young carers have opened up that door where she can talk about it, with other children who understand."

Helen Smark's daughter Aoife has used STYC since she was five.

Both Helen, 39, and her younger son Bradan, nine, have autism and additional issues which, Helen said, means Aoife, now 10, leads a "tough" and "unpredictable" life.

She's quiet and shy, struggling to make friends, but the STYC staff members who visit her at school give her invaluable support, and help the whole family to cope.

Helen said: "They give her the opportunity to talk to someone who understands, someone who won't judge her when she's crying and saying she hates 'stupid autism.'.

"When I told my daughter, she cried because she has no one else to talk to.

"I know they are awaiting the outcome of funding applications which would secure the jobs, but in the mean time our council aren't willing to help them out short term.

"Losing this service will have a drastic knock-on, these already vulnerable children will suffer their own mental health issues, some will be unable to continue caring."

Mum-of-three Adele Gillum used the service after she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer in 2016.

They took her sons on day trips, helped her understand benefit entitlements, and kept in close contact with the family to work out when they could be most helpful. …

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