Sat, 16 Feb 2019
TWO West Berkshire schools have been praised for their efforts on raising awareness for young carers, writes Todd Andrews.
Schools across the district competed to find the most creative way to increase the understanding about young carers and the difference they make.
The winners of the competition, run by the Young Carers Project (YCP) West Berkshire, were announced on Young Carers Awareness Day on Thursday, January 31.
The winner of the secondary school category was Newbury’s St Bartholomew’s School, while Calcot Junior School was named the primary schools winner.
All participating schools submitted a brief explaining what awareness-raising activities they had taken part in and the impact they had.
The schools were also encouraged to give additional evidence, such as photographs and videos, to help judges understand their project.
YCP worker for West Berkshire Council Joe Sutton said: “We were impressed by the wide range of events taking place at St Bartholomew’s, the whole school approach and the commitment of the student officers to drive the activities throughout the day.
“We also liked that there was a long-term plan after Young Carers Awareness Day to continue to raise awareness.”
St Bartholomew’s has four members of staff who have completed West Berkshire Council’s Young Carers Champions Training, enabling them to have a better understanding of the issues young carers face.
The school is also planning to run weekly lunchtime young carer sessions.
Commenting on Calcot Juniors win, Mr Sutton said: “We were impressed with Calcot Junior School’s idea to have an interactive assembly.
“This allowed the pupils to reflect on what they had learned and also have their views shared on a specific Young Carer’s Day notice board.
“We have had great feedback from the school, which has identified several hidden young carers as a result of Young Carers Awareness Day.”
He added: “The YCP acknowledges that children are providing care to their loved ones.
“This validates what they are doing and gives them a sense of pride.
“We enable children to make close friendships with other young carers who have similar circumstances at home.
“We offer them someone to speak with when times are hard and deliver lots of enjoyable respite activities and residential experiences.”
West Berkshire Council’s executive member for children, education and young people, Lynne Doherty (Con, Northcroft), said: “West Berkshire Council ran the competition with local schools to raise awareness of young carers in the district.
“We had a fantastic response from schools and were able to identify several more young carers as a result.
“Young carers are young people under 18 years old who are taking care of family members.
“The Young Carers Project aims to support these young people, give them a voice and help them get some respite from their responsibilities.”