*** If you are under 18 and caring for someone please reach out for help and support today, you are not alone. ***

Driving home from work today I have just listened to a play on radio 4 about the real-life experiences of three Young Carers in Salford and their stories have moved me to tears and would encourage everyone to listen to the play “Who Care’s” by Matt Woodhead (no relation).

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000s191

After listening to this play and these stories I have stopped the hundred and one things I need to get done today to write this blog and publish before I do anything else. I hope you can and will take an hour out of your day to listen to the lives of these three young people. Put Corrie on record, pause from the Netflix binge watching, grab a box of tissues and listen, really listen to what young carers have to cope with ahead of their years.

The hidden plight of young carers is something that has always been on the edge of my mind but not something I have motivated myself to get involved with but these stories and the hundreds of thousands similar stories across the Country and in our community make me wish I had more time in every day to support these young people going about a hidden, invisible role every day themselves.

Even though I have had my own trials and tribulations of life and I know everyone has their own challenges through the journey of life, I am self-aware of the privilege I was born with being a white, middle class male from a stable family, well educated and worked my entire life. Those that know me know the time, commitment and money I contribute in my community, which I give freely and without expectation of reward or favour. I even hesitate writing this in this paragraph but offer it only by way of context to my frustration in myself that I can do more to help highlight and support Young Carers in our community. Even my fiercest political opponents would acknowledge the hardwork and hours I put into many aspects of community life. But listening to this broadcast reminds me that this is not enough, not enough by far.

I was not a young carer or ever needed to be a carer beyond the routine family life. My daughter was never needed to be a carer for me or my ex-wife. We are fortunate, as most of us are, but it is estimated that there are 700,000 young people under the age of 18 caring for a relative, a parent, a sibling in their home often with no support and hidden from the view of their schools, their neighbours and the local authority support systems.

I had a normal childhood growing up doing all the things we do as kids as did my daughter but the tragedy of missing out on all those experiences for needing to take on a responsibility beyond your years is something that has made me quite emotional and commit to myself to do more and do better. The first step is writing this blog. I know I am fortunate to have a platform to talk to people about issues and I hope that some people reading this may be moved to action themselves. My second step is to find out more about this in our area which I will do today and my starting point is here

https://www.thecarershub.co.uk/young-carers

https://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/Care-for-all-ages/Carers/Young-carers.aspx

https://www.staffordshireconnects.info/kb5/staffordshire/directory/results.page?localofferchannel=10-2-3&localofferagebands=4

I repeat my first line from above *** If you are under 18 and caring for someone please reach out for help and support today, you are not alone. ***

This is not something I have just discovered but the power of these stories has moved me, I hope it moves you too.