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Event to inspire young carers to Reach for the Skies

‚ÄčA two-day event is being held to give young people who care for someone with a mental health condition a break from their caring duties.

About 70 youngsters aged 12-15 from all over Norfolk and Suffolk will take part in "Reach for the Skies" on Thursday, 31 May and Friday, 1 June.

It is being organised by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), with support from Feedback (a mental health service user forum in Great Yarmouth and Waveney), Carers Matter Norfolk and Suffolk Family Carers.

Reach for Skies, which will include an overnight stay, will take place at the Horstead Centre, a residential activity centre based in the Old Rectory at Horstead on the edge of the Norfolk Broads.

Howard Tidman (pictured), NSFT Senior Practitioner with Acute Services who is based at Northgate Hospital, Great Yarmouth, said activities would include archery, a zip wire, band, barbecue and storytellers.

"Young carers can often be at a disadvantage to their peers and can struggle to meet their own needs, for example, their education, social life and health, because they are too busy looking after others, such as a parent and their siblings," he said.

"The aim of Reach for the Skies is for them to have a good time and to forget about their worries for a couple of days.

"At the end of the event, we want them to believe in themselves more and to have confidence that they can go out there and achieve whatever they aspire to in their lives."

Howard has personal experience of being a young carer, looking after his own mum throughout his childhood while she battled with alcoholism.

Youngsters at Reach for the Skies will also be encouraged to talk about the problems they face as carers, and motivational speaker Siya Twani will tell them how they can achieve anything they set their minds to.

Representatives of Norwich City College and the University of East Anglia (UEA) will be on hand to tell youngsters about courses which may interest them, and school nurses and oral health experts will be available to give health tips.

Howard said there are now many young carer support groups but there appeared to be none when he was caring for his mother, who died in 2005. He frequently organises forums for carers to raise awareness of the support that is now available.

The first Reach for the Skies event was held last year at Pleasurewood Hills, near Lowestoft. It was called Reach for the Skies after some of the theme park's gravity-defying rides but has retained the name because the event aims to support the aspirations of young carers.


Note to editors: Reach for the Skies is being supported by Jarrolds, Kettle Chips, The Lind Trust, The Rope Trust and

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