Making Memories… Giving Hope

Young Carers Awareness Day: Holly's story

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In 2018, 388 children with caring responsibilities came on CHICKS breaks with us.

The young carers referred to CHICKS for a break will have a range of responsibilities that might include:

- caring for parents, grandparents or siblings who may have a physical and/or mental health illness

- shopping and cooking for the family

- cleaning and carrying out chores in the family home

Having caring responsibilities like these mean young carers can often miss out on the fun, carefree activities other children are able to enjoy. A CHICKS break gives them a chance to just be children and to know that they are not alone.

Respite Break Training and Support Officer Oliver Boyce explains: "Young carers who are able to come on a CHICKS respite break are able to put their worries and responsibilities aside for the week and concentrate on themselves.

"Young carers often don’t have chance for socialising outside of school or time for extracurricular activities. A CHICKS break offers many new experiences and a chance to build new relationships with others who may be in a similar circumstance."

Holly, aged 10 from Kent, is a young carer. She has three younger step-siblings, all of whom have health and behavioural issues. Holly helps her mother to care for her step-siblings, particularly with one of her step-brothers who is prone to vocal and violent outbursts. When he becomes violent towards her mother, Holly will often step in, calming her brother down and comforting her other siblings who can become very upset by this behaviour. Although her mother is now in a new relationship, she has been a single-parent for many years and therefore Holly has had to take on a lot of responsibilities within the home. Holly’s young carers group therefore referred her to CHICKS because “she gets very little time to herself and would greatly benefit from some fun ‘me’ time”.

Holly had a wonderful week at CHICKS, taking part in lots of fun activities and making loads of new friends. She was friendly and outgoing and her kind and caring personality quickly made her a popular member of the group. She also enjoyed spending time with the Respite Break Leaders and volunteers, relishing the opportunity to play, chat and share a joke with them. Holly participated fully in all of the activities on offer, pushing herself to do her best and try new things. Despite some initial nerves during rock-climbing, with the support of everyone on break, Holly was able to take part and was extremely proud of her achievements. At the end of the Daleside break Holly said that her ‘best memory’ had been “meeting everyone” and described her CHICKS experience as “the best holiday EVER!”

A teacher who has referred other young carers to CHICKS for breaks added: "The children were really happy about the relationships they built during their break, not only with other young people, but also with the staff and volunteers. One of the young carers stated that their break made them feel valued by the adults around them.

"And getting out of their comfort zones enabled our young people to raise their aspirations in general, and because it was such a positive experience the young carers now look forward to visiting new places and meeting new people; some of them will now even speak up in front of a group with more confidence. 

"Unltimately, the children felt valued and had loads of fun. Everyone was really excited when I picked them up from Derby and they all told me all about their break on the journey back to London. They were really excited about the pack they were given, with a special focus on the pictures and the cards with the messages from staff and volunteers. This was very special for them.”

If you support or work with young carers in a professional capacity you can refer a child for a CHICKS break. Head over to our Refer a Child page to find out more.

To support CHICKS so that we can provide breaks for more children like Holly, please consider a donation here.

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