BBC Children in Need helps towards providing a sanctuary for young carers
BBC Children in Need fundraisers hold a special place in the hearts of Blackpool carers.
For some of the money raised by the annual televised appeal funds two workers who provide respite activities for young carers at Blackpool Carers Centre.
Brothers 15-year-old Damien and 13-year-old Jonathan Talbot know only too well how the respite programme – where young carers get time away from their caring roles at youth clubs, trips and activities – can help.
Damien and Jonathan care for their dad, Paul, who suffers from a condition called nuerofibramatosis type one, a rare genetic condition where mainly non-cancerous tumours grow along the nerves.
They have been coming to Blackpool Carers on and off for several years, but recently re-joined the Children in Need funded respite program.
“It’s definitely changed a lot since we first came”, Jonathan said. “They have more activities for all ages now and it feels good to get some time off.
“This is our respite.”
Early every morning, their mum Sara gets up and goes swimming while Jonathan and Damien help their dad get up, shower and dress before they go to school.
Because of his condition, someone has to be with him at all times in case something happens.
“Sometimes it’s difficult going to school afterwards”, Damien said,
“When Dad is having one of his bad days you worry about how him and mum are all day.”
Despite the obvious challenges in their young lives both of them are fiercely proud of being young carers.
Jonathan added: “In a way it feels good to help dad because he needs it, it’s not his fault he has this condition and it’s not our fault either.”
BBC North West Tonight presenters Stuart Flinders and Diane Oxberry joined a Children in Need party at the Carers Centre HQ on Newton Drive on Wednesday following a 20 mile Plod for Pudsey across the Fylde coast.
Earlier in the day Blackpool Carers Centre respite workers Samantha Kirkbride and Andy Gunn joined Graham Liver and Sally Naden of BBC Radio Lancashire on their Power to the Tower at St Michael’s Primary School in Kirkham.
Faye Atherton, head of services at Blackpool Carers, said: “The youth clubs and activities they [Children in Need] fund are a sanctuary for young carers. We will continue to uncover more hidden carers who need services like this.”