The people of Leeds have united behind the city’s army of young carers in a fundraising drive to help pay for trips away - with an anonymous donor pledging £4k after reading the YEP’s interview with 13-year-old Scarlett.
In September, the teenage carer gave a moving account of her life looking after her three siblings and mum, who has mental health problems, in an interview to kickstart a campaign by Leeds Community Foundation (LCF) to raise enough money to allow 200 young carers the chance to experience a holiday or break.
In it, she spoke of her dread each day when school finished and she faces returning home to her caring responsibilities.
She said: “I always get the same feeling when school finishes - that I don’t want to go home, but I have to.
“I’m very aware my life is quite a lot different from my friends - I have a harder life. It makes me feel upset that someone is having a better life than me. My friends get to go out all the time and see everyone - and I stay in. It makes me angry.
“I’m the one that has to cope with everything. I have to look after my little sister and brothers and do the cooking and washing and that. I’ve had to get used to it because I know mum isn’t going to change.”
Scarlett, who’s name has been changed, went on to receive help from children’s charity Barnardo’s Willow Young Carers, which provides days out as well as vital one-to-one support.
The LCF campaign aims to help more carers, like Scarlett - who are thought to number 4,000 in Leeds - the experience of a short break or day’s holiday from their responsibilities.
The campaign was given a massive boost within days of the YEP’s story in September, with a single donation of £4k by an anonymous reader who said: “When I read the YEP article, it made me think about something I had not really thought about before – the role of a child caring for an adult. My experience had always been the other way round – me, as an adult, caring for my daughter. It just made me realise what Scarlett and others must be going through and I felt compelled and inspired to help.”
But time is now running out to daonte - as the campaign closes in less than a week, on Tuesday November 10.
Sally-Anne Greenfield, Chief Executive of Leeds Community Foundation said, “We have been overwhelmed by the response and the generosity of local people – receiving cheques and online donations from local people and businesses. With less than a week left of the campaign we are keen to raise as much money as we can to beat our target and help even more young carers in the city.”
Donations can be submitted by PayPal or credit/debit card via the crowdfunding site http://igg.me/at/Leedscf. Cheques can also be made payable to ‘Leeds Community Foundation’ and sent to LCF Cares, Leeds Community Foundation, 51a St Pauls Street, Leeds, LS1 2ET.