Norfolk and Suffolk young carers are inspired to reach for the sky | News and events

Norfolk and Suffolk young carers are inspired to reach for the sky

Young carers from Norfolk and Suffolk were encouraged to ‘reach for the sky’ during a stay at an adventure centre as a break from their caring roles.

The third residential Reach for the Sky event, organised by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, saw 64 young carers, aged between 13 and 16, stay at Thorpe Woodlands Adventure Centre, near Thetford, for two days of outdoor activities.

The teenagers, who are all unpaid carers for family members who have mental illness or whose own mental wellbeing is at risk, are supported by local carers organisations including Suffolk Family Carers, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Young Carers Group and MTM youth services.

The aim of the event is to inspire the young people to ‘reach for the sky’ and increase their confidence. It also provides respite and experiences they might otherwise miss out on due to their caring role.

During the two days, the young carers took part in activities such as zipwires, canoeing and archery. They stayed overnight in lodges and enjoyed music, a storyteller and a fire act in the evening. 

After coming down from a tree top obstacle course, young carer Gabriella, aged 13, said: “I can’t even believe I’ve just done that. It’s amazing to have time for myself and get to do this.”

On the last day, a marketplace of stalls gave the teenagers information about health, academic and training courses and work options. There was also a talk from motivational speaker Siya Twani about his experience in the African National Congress, resilience and believing in oneself, in which he encouraged the young people to consider their options for the future.

NSFT young people’s participation team was also there to listen to feedback and encourage involvement in participation activities so young carers’ voices continue to be heard. 

Carers’ lead and event organiser Howard Tidman said: “I’m so proud we are able to support such an important experience for these young carers. I was a young carer myself and I recognise how much of that burden is hidden from society. 

“Young carers often have poor life outcomes compared to their peers as they can spend less time in school, so it is important to encourage their aspirations with events like this. 

“It is great to see the change in the young people’s confidence, even over the short time they are here. We want them to take that confidence with them onto whatever they choose to do in the future.” 

Zoë Billingham, NSFT Chair said: “I’ve been so fortunate to speak with several of the young carers who were taking part in this event.

“It’s incredible to see them climbing trees, making friends and getting time out from their caring roles. I hope that this inspires them and I am proud that NSFT is working so closely with partners to support the mental health of these young carers and their families.”

NSFT Chair Zoë Billingham with some young carers who are about to climb up a tree top obstacle course


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