Volunteers who drive needed to support young carers in West Sussex

Residents are being asked to make a difference to the lives of children and young people who need a break from caring for their loved ones.

West Sussex County Council is appealing for volunteers who can provide young carers with transport to their local youth group one evening a week during term time.

The County Council is particularly interested in hearing from people in the districts of Chichester, Crawley and Mid Sussex. The closing date for applications is Tuesday 29 June.

Simon Bagg started volunteering when he stopped commuting to London every day for work. He was motivated by the understanding he has as an adult carer and the knowledge of the responsibilities, the time commitment and the pressures a child would be under as a young carer.

Simon, who lives in Horsham, said: “I have been transporting children to a Young Carers’ Group for about a year and consider it to be a privilege. I have found it rewarding knowing that I am making a difference. 

“The children obviously enjoy attending the weekly meeting, socialising with friends and taking part in the activities. Each week you get to know the children better. Knowing that you are helping children that have challenges other children do not is why we do it.”

A young carer may have taken on responsibilities at home because someone in their family has a disability, has been ill for a long time, experiences mental ill health, or has a problem linked to drugs or alcohol.

Engaging in social activities and meeting other young carers can offer a valuable outlet, allowing them to build self-esteem and confidence, make friends and try new things. 

Stephen Hillier, Cabinet Member for Children – Start of Life, said: “Caring responsibilities can put anyone under a significant amount of strain. But for a young person, juggling those responsibilities alongside their studies can mean they miss out on things that others may take for granted and they lose an important part of their childhood.

“A young carer may be unable to rely on a lift from their parents so getting to social activities and groups can become problematic. Our transport volunteers make a big difference and I urge people to consider for two minutes if they could make this simple commitment.”

Full training is given which covers understanding young carers, the boundaries and limitations of the role, and knowledge of the support and supervision provided to all volunteers in a driving role.

Travel costs and agreed out of pocket expenses will be reimbursed. Volunteers must have:

• A full driving licence
• A fully-insured car
• Good communication skills
• Be sensitive to the needs of young carers
• Provide two references
• And be willing to undertake a criminal records check with the Disclosure and Barring Service

To help a young carer and to find out further information, contact 01903 270300 or email youngcarers@westsussex.gov.uk.