Who We Are
Herefordshire Young and Young Adult Carers CIC (HYYAC) provide support and respite for children and young adults aged between 8 and 25 who are caring for a family member with an illness, disability, mental health issue or problem with drugs or alcohol.
The founders and directors, myself, Susan Brace and my colleague, Ed Roberts, are passionate about supporting Young and Young Adult Carers and are committed to ensuring as many as possible receive the help they need.
Ed comes from a social work background and was leading the Young and Young Adult Carers team at Herefordshire Carers Support, a local charity, long before I came along for an interview in 2012. I was previously a Visitor Services Manager in the National Trust before moving on to The British Red Cross, and was delighted to then become the lead for Young Carers in Herefordshire.
Together we have nearly three decades of experience and knowledge of supporting young people in a caring role in Herefordshire. Hundreds of children and young people have been supported by us over the years, and with your help we can support hundreds more.
When Herefordshire Carers Support closed in 2019 they transferred their remaining project funding for Young Carers to hvoss (Herefordshire Voluntary Organisations Support Service) and we continued to deliver the service on a freelance, self-employed basis for the next 4 years. As sole traders we couldn't apply for grants ourselves and had to rely on other organisations doing so on our behalf. With no further funding for Young Carers on the horizon, in December 2023 we took the decision to set up our own, independent not-for-profit service and Herefordshire Young and Young Adult Carers CIC was born.
Who are Young Carers?
They are any child or young person with a caring responsibility for a family member with a long-term illness, disability, addiction to drugs or alcohol or a mental health condition. Young Carers often take on practical and/or emotional support roles that may be excessive and inappropriate. These caring responsibilities would normally be expected of an adult and can have a huge impact on their childhood, development and achievements.
Due to their caring role their social life can be very limited, they often feel isolated, experience being bullied and can suffer from low self-esteem and poor mental health themselves.
They are more likely to live in poverty than their peers and Young Adult Carers are three times as likely to be or have been NEET (not in education, employment or training) than other young people the same age.
Our vision is to ensure that Young and Young Adult Carers throughout Herefordshire are valued, recognized and supported so that they enjoy their childhood and experience a positive transition to adulthood.
How Do We Help?
We provide clubs for our Young Carers to have a safe space to meet, both face-to-face and online. Our Zoom Club began as an online service during lockdown and has proven so popular it has become a permanent part of the service.
We provide a mix of games and activities which are chosen by our young people, as we pride ourselves on being youth-led. This is their precious time away from their caring role, so they can choose what they want to do with it. We've held drama sessions, poetry sessions, parties, competitions, cookery, pottery, art and drumming workshops plus all sorts of group games and challenges.
The children get to regularly access fun activities and see the friends they have made at Young Carers Club, which has made a significant difference to the majority of them. The evidence we collect shows that respite from their caring role reduces stress and anxiety, improves their well-being and decreases their sense of isolation.
Many have made friends with other Young Carers they wouldn't normally have met as they live in different areas or go to different schools, which is especially true for the virtual clubs. Susan runs the Young Carer Clubs with help from Carole, our sessional worker, and we are always available for any young person who may need a little extra support or a private chat while at club.
Our Young Adult Carers have their own group, run by Ed, which meets regularly. They have the chance to catch up with each other, have a coffee and a chat and Ed is on hand with advice and information for anyone that needs it.
We often bring the two groups together so transition from Young to Young Adult Carers is easier for our young people and so that younger carers can benefit from the advice and experiences of our older members.
We also run trips, outings and activities in the holidays.
Families can self-refer to us and we routinely receive referrals from Herefordshire Council’s Early Help Team as well as schools, medical staff and other professionals.
The need for our service
In a recent session our Young Carers told us our clubs are:
- A safe space to relax, have fun and not worry
- A place to make friends with people in a similar situation, who have a good understanding and we don’t have to explain ourselves
- A therapeutic setting
- A place that keeps us sane
- A place where we can access help, advice and information
- A safe space where we don’t have to talk about caring
- A safe place where we feel a sense of relief
- A place that makes us calmer for when we return home
We have well-established groups, run by experienced qualified staff, with an infrastructure which is already in place. The only thing we don't have is funding.
We are the only local organisation that offers specific, tailored support for Young and Young Adult Carers from 8 up to the age of 25. There is no time limit to our service, young people can continue to access support for as long as they are in a caring role.
In their own words, Young Carers say:
“It’s helpful because if you’re struggling at home with mental health or looking after someone they’re just a click away”
“It means I get out of the house and I can talk to people who actually understand my situation and can help me.”
“I get really annoyed sometimes and my dad’s really ill but that’s why I come to Young Carers. It really helped me with my school life and I haven’t had a detention once this whole term. Now I come to Young Carers I get more time to spend with other people because I don’t actually go out much at home. It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I’m really happy now.”
“It has been so helpful and to stop going would make me so sad. As someone who suffers from severe anxiety, depression and PTSD I find it so, so hard to reach out and make friends and Young Carers gives me that. I feel like people understand and that I can talk and be myself without having a panic attack. It has helped me tremendously”
“Just wanted to let you know I’m doing really well and wanted to thank you for the years or so at club, because school was really rough and club was really helpful getting me through each week. thank you for the support for so, so long :)!”
“I’ve met one of my best friends there”
“One of the hardest things is being away from family. When my brother is in hospital he’s in for 2 weeks at a time and mum stays with him. When mum’s away I have more to do at home. I get tired more and I am hurting because they are at the hospital, visiting isn’t possible. I have to do more chores around the house to help out so less time for myself. I get behind with school/college work sometimes. I get worried about losing support, going to young carer club gives me time and helps me de-stress. Having someone I can text or speak to is helpful. I worry about funding and club stopping, we need extra so we don’t have to worry about budgets. If we run out of money club might not run.”