Volunteer drivers that help young carers get to support groups have been described as ‘awesome’, ‘generous’ and ‘helpful’.
Every single young carer who responded to a recent survey said that the Volunteer Transport Project has enabled them to make new friends.
There are currently 22 volunteers across West Sussex, driving approximately 36 young carers to their local Young Carers Group once a week during term time.
A young carer is a young person whose life is affected by the care needs of another person, who may have any disability or long-term illness. This could be anybody with a physical or learning disability, mental health problem, someone who misuses drugs or alcohol, has HIV/Aids, or is elderly and frail.
Other responses to the survey showed that 81% agreed it has improved relationships at home, 88% feel better about themselves and 96% had made time for themselves away from their caring responsibilities.
Alison Morgan, who has volunteered in Chichester for three years, said: “These young carers have grown up and I have seen them get so much better. They went from being teenagers that have loads of issues and then by going to the young carers group they seemed to grow up and make friends. They taught me a lot as well.
“I only do it one evening a week and I don’t think of it as a task, I think of it as a pleasure. I can only recommend it to others. I really enjoy it."
The project is currently looking for new drivers to volunteer for a couple of hours one evening a week. It particularly needs people in Pulborough and Billingshurst to take young carers to and from the Horsham group on a Monday night, term time only.
Stephen Hillier, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “One of our young carers said the most important part of the Volunteer Transport Project is that it gives them the chance to have some time out to be with other young people. This cannot be under estimated.
“Life is often difficult for all of our young carers but the local groups show them that they are not alone. But how do they get there if they don’t have an adult who can drive them or if their dad can’t leave the house because he is caring for another family member. My thanks go out to all our wonderful volunteers.”
To find out more about becoming a transport volunteer, call 01903 270300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The closing date for applications is 27th June.
Volunteers must have a full driving licence and their own fully-insured car. They will also require a criminal records check with the Disclosure and Barring Service, and must provide two references.
Full training is provided. Travel costs and agreed out of pocket expenses will be reimbursed.