YOUNG adult carers and children in care supported by Barnardo’s in Liverpool and Wirral met with the charity’s leaders on Monday 24 September to tell them about the difference Barnardo’s has made to their lives.
Katie, Quiana and Katie were three of the young adult carers from Liverpool, who met with Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan, along with Wendy Becker, Barnardo’s new Chair of Trustees and Deirdre Cheers, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s Australia, as they visited the Barnardo’s service based at Eaton Road.
The three young women are being supported by Barnardo’s in Liverpool as they study at university whilst balancing their caring responsibilities for family members.
Katie O’Shaughnessey, 24, talked with the charity leaders about her experiences as a young adult carer and how Barnardo’s supported her to be able to study at Edge Hill University, whilst caring for her mum who has vascular dementia. Katie has recently graduated with a 2:1 BA Hons degree in English Literature and is now studying for a Masters in Psychology at Liverpool Hope University. Katie has also been involved in significant work with Barnardo’s to ensure young carers’ voices are heard, including speaking on a panel of carers at a recent Select Committee Hearing at the Houses of Parliament in London.
The three Barnardo’s leaders also met with a 17-year-old girl who had been in care and is living in supported accommodation, who spoke about the daily challenges she faces and how her support worker at Barnardo’s is helping her to prepare for living independently when she moves into new accommodation when she turns 18.
Javed, Wendy and Deirdre spoke with staff who work with young people through Barnardo’s Action with Young Carers services, as well as the Start Smart team, which supports young people aged 17 to 18 who are in care and living in semi-independent accommodation, to help prepare them for the transition to living independently.
Staff from Barnardo’s LifeSkills team also talked about the early intervention and prevention work they deliver in a number of primary schools across Merseyside, educating young people between the ages of eight and 11 about resisting peer pressure, including in relation to drugs and alcohol.
Javed Khan, Barnardo’s Chief Executive said: “It has been incredibly moving to see and hear first-hand how Barnardo’s frontline workers across Liverpool and Merseyside are transforming the lives of children, young people and their families in the region.
“All young people deserve the same opportunities in life, regardless of whether they’ve been in foster care, helped to look after a sick family member, or had a child of their own at a young age.
“It was really inspiring to meet Katie, Quiana and Katie, who are living proof that with the right support every young person can reach their potential and build a positive future.”
Wendy Becker, Chair of Barnardo’s Trustees said: “It was humbling to see the passion that staff at Barnardo’s so clearly have in their roles supporting young people in whatever way they can. And it was a pleasure to meet with young people and witness first-hand the life changing impact Barnardo’s has on their lives.”
Each year Barnardo’s supports more than 2,000 children, young people and parents/carers through its services across Merseyside. The charity has 28 retail shops across the region, which are supported by more than 370 volunteers.
In addition to providing support for young carers across Merseyside through one-to-one support and breaks from caring, and supporting care leavers to assist them with independent living skills, Barnardo’s also runs a number of other services across the region. These include supporting teenagers and young people that are pregnant or have young families, providing counselling services for young people with mental health issues, offering an essential befriending and mentoring scheme for young people in care and delivering an early intervention and prevention programme to a number of primary schools across Merseyside, educating young people between the ages of eight and 11.
Earlier this year, young carers in Liverpool made a video entitled ‘You Can Help’, which is being shown in schools across Merseyside to raise awareness about the impact a caring role can have on a young person’s school life and emotional health, and demonstrates how people working at all levels in a school can be vital in identifying young carers and getting them the right support.