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Soaraway success of Reach for the Skies event

​Fifty-one young people who care for someone with a mental health condition enjoyed a two-day event designed to give them a break from their caring duties.

The youngsters, who are aged between 12 and 15 and come from all over Norfolk and Suffolk, took part in activities ranging from archery to zip wiring at the Reach for the Skies event at the Horstead Centre, near Coltishall.

It was 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.

Howard Tidman, NSFT Senior Practitioner with Acute Services who is based at Northgate Hospital, Great Yarmouth, said he had received positive feedback from the youngsters themselves and their parents.

"The main aim of Reach for the Skies was for the young people to have a good time and forget about their worries for a couple of days, and I'm certain we achieved that," he said.

"Contributing to its success was the fact that the rain held off and there was something for everyone.

"For example, we had three storytellers, including professional storyteller Liam Carroll from Norwich who went down well, a climbing wall, a rap band and a very good inspirational speaker called Siya Twari who filled the room with energy."

Mr Tidman added that young carers often 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.

Information stalls were a feature.of Reach for the Skies. Representatives of Norwich City College and the University of East Anglia (UEA) told youngsters about courses which may interest them, school nurses and oral health experts gave health tips and one stall was encouraging girls to consider engineering careers in the wind farm industry.

The event included an overnight stay at the Horstead Centre, which is a residential activity centre based in the Old Rectory at Horstead on the edge of the Norfolk Broads.

It was attended by Norfolk County Council's Sue Hobbs, Strategy and Commissioning Manager for Young Carers and Families.

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. It is expected that a third event will be held next year.

Mr Tidman, who frequently organises forums for carers in order to raise awareness of the support that is now available, has personal experience of being a young carer because he looked after his own mother throughout his childhood while she battled alcoholism.

Caption: Five young carers taking time for themselves at Reach for the Skies (from left to right): Libby, Harry (back), Sarah, Lewis and Abbie.

Photo gallery: To see photos from the event, click here​.

Reach for the Skies was supported by Jarrolds, Kettle Chips, The Lind Trust, The Rope Trust and

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