Fifty young carers joined 43 professionals at Watford Football Club for the conference - an annual event planned and hosted by our Young Carers Council.
The event on Thursday 18th February was a huge success and the young carers, aged from six to 18, played team games, had a quiz and spoke about their priorities.
A highlight was a question and answer session with Watford FC goalkeepers Heurelho Gomes and Rene Gilmartin and Watford FC Ladies player Renee Hector. The trio spoke about their careers and encouraged the young carers to have dreams and took part in a signing session.
Heurelho said: “It was good to be part of the conference. The youngsters live their lives to care for their loved ones and that is something really great.”
This year the conference formed part of the consultation for the Hertfordshire Young Carers’ Strategy and Youth Connexions launched its new Stevenage Carers Group. Among the priorities highlighted included:
• Better support with transitions such as moving from primary to secondary school or school to college or work;
• Improved support at school, particularly with homework and not have to give up breaks to complete it; and
• Help to identify themselves as carers at an early stage.
Carole Whittle, our Health and Wellbeing Manager, who is responsible for the young carers service, said: “It was great to see the young carers engaging with professionals as well as Watford Football Club representatives. It helped them see that things are possible that they may not have dreamt of and has given them confidence.
“Events like this give young carers the chance to meet other children in similar situations and speak to people who commission and provide services for them about their experiences in order to get the support they need to reduce their caring role.”
Carole thanked Watford FC Community Sports and Education Trust for its support and Freefall Productions for sharing their powerful drama about a young carers’ life.
Chair of the Young Carers Council Grace Huxtable, who is 18 and helps care for her Mum, said: “The conference went well and I think the professionals really took on board our stories. One issue we highlighted was that we wanted to be approached and involved in discussions when it comes to caring and not left out due to our age.”
Kasey, 17, who cares for his Mum and Grandad, said: “Everyone seemed to have fun and worked well together.”
It is estimated that there are at least 8,000 young carers in Hertfordshire – 10% of children attending the county’s state-funded secondary schools and the average age of a young carer is 12.
If you are or know someone under 19 that helps care for a parent, sibling or family member due to age, illness or disability and want to learn more about other events and support we provide young carers and their families please get in touch. You can call 01992 58 69 69, email or visit our young carers site www.ycih.org