A BLACKPOOL family has been chosen as the face of a charity campaign to raise money for young carers.
The Leightons, of Fenton Road, South Shore, have appeared on ITV’s Lorraine Kelly, and been filmed for a DVD, which will be watched by every Co-Operative employee in the country as the organisation has chosen the Carers Trust as its charity for the year.
Paula Leighton has extensive mental health issues, and is cared for by her family – husband Jonathan, daughters Shannon, 15, and Kerri-Ann, 12, and seven-year-old son, Joe.
The whole family is supported by Blackpool Carers’ Centre, which is a network member of the Carers Trust, including Shannon, who is a young adult carer.
Chief officer of Blackpool Carers’ centre Michelle Smith said: “Young adult carers have cared for, perhaps, their parents, siblings and sometimes their grandparents all their lives.
“They probably have low attainment and achievement at school, and low attendance probably because of the caring they have to do.
“Their aspirations are low, maybe because they think they are not able to achieve as much as their peers do.”
Mrs Smith said Blackpool Carers’ Centre supported the young adults in their caring role and the family they were caring for, and took them on days out and residentials for a spot of respite.
The Co-Operative is aiming to raise £5m for young adult carers across the country.
Mrs Leighton, 33, said: “Blackpool Young Carers have been very supportive of me and my family in what has been a traumatic 12 months.
“My two daughters are my main carers, after my husband, and my son helps with emotional support. I don’t know where my family would be without the carers’ centre – they do things I am unable to do with my children.”
As well as helping the charity campaign, Mrs Leighton wants to give her personal thanks to the carers centre by raising money on her own.
She is asking for donations towards a £1,500 target at www.justgiving.com/paula-leighton.