Lauren Walton, a 22 year old from Worcester, is a young carer for her dad, Stephen. Lauren has been supported by Worcestershire Young Carers for 11 years, and is urging people to donate to YSS during this year’s Carers Week.

Working for national charity Leukemia Care as a Patient Information and Design Officer, Lauren balances her full time career alongside caring for her dad, who has significant mental and physical health problems including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, depression, gout and cardiomyopathy. She said: “I have not known life to be any different to the life that I lead now. Knowing that I am making a difference to my dad’s quality of life means the world to me. Not every day is great for him, but knowing that what I do helps to make his life a little better and a little bit easier means everything.”

A typical day for Lauren, who shares a flat with her friend in Worcester, involves visiting her dad every evening after work, ensuring his medication is organised and the household chores are completed, as well as walking the dog and doing the food shopping.

Lauren has been supported by Worcestershire Young Carers, a service delivered by independent charity YSS, since she was ten years old and was transitioning from primary to secondary school. She said: “I’m really grateful for the involvement I’ve had with Worcestershire Young Carers, and want to take this year’s Carers Week as the opportunity to spread the message and encourage as many people as possible to donate what they can to ensure people like me are given the chance to have as many fun and different activities and experiences as possible.

“Being supported by the service has given me a really strong network of people who are in a similar position to me and the support from keyworkers has been fantastic.

“As well as all of the different clubs and trips I’ve been able to experience, Worcestershire Young Carers has helped me to see that being a young carer isn’t a drawback; it is something that helps me to stand out from the crowd. The skills and qualities I have learned from my caring role have helped me to successfully obtain a university degree and go on to find work in the charity sector.”

Lauren is just one of more than 420 young carers who are supported by Worcestershire Young Carers across the county. The service, delivered by YSS since 2003, provides assessment, one-to-one support and signposting to children and young people aged seven to 25 who have a caring role at home. The service also provides a wide variety of clubs, events and activities throughout the year, which are vital in giving young carers the chance to kick back, have some fun and enjoy time spent away from their caring roles.

Lauren said: “Worcestershire Young Carers is a vital service for people like me. Without it, a lot of young carers would feel lost, as if they are the only ones in their position.”

Worcestershire Young Carers relies on generous donations in order to run a varied programme of activities and holidays, like visiting the seaside, going tobogganing or visiting the theatre, which give young carers the opportunity to experience new things and socialise away from their home environments.

Lauren said: “Without Worcestershire Young Carers it’s unlikely I ever would have had the chance to get to museums or the theatre as a child, or experience a day trip with my friends. These are things that every child or young person should get the chance to do, but unfortunately for young carers who often have so many other responsibilities it is not always possible. Please consider making a donation to support YSS and help the charity to reach more young carers, who are likely to be hidden from view.”

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