Watching youngsters having fun with their friends at one of West Norfolk Carers’ young carers support groups, they look like any other child their age.
Laughing as they play games, and chatting with one another, they get the chance to be carefree and enjoy every day pleasures their peers often take for granted.
For at home, the young carers often face the burden of physical and emotional care responsibilities normally expected of an adult.
They may care for a sick or disabled family member, helping them to get up, washed and dressed, doing household chores such as cooking, washing and cleaning or looking after younger brothers and sisters.
The demand can put a strain on their schooling, and leaves them with little time to have a life of their own.
That’s where West Norfolk Carer’s (WNC) young carers support groups help, by giving youngsters as young as seven a break from their routine.
It’s a chance to have fun and be themselves, as well as access vital support from care workers if they need it.
But with only enough funding for WNC to run one group per age group, per month, the young carers have to wait weeks before their next ‘release’.
Young carers support worker Emma Kandjou explained: “If a young carer is having difficulties at home or at school as a result of their care role, it can feel like ages before the next group session comes round.
“When we ask young carers how we can support them more, the one thing they always say is ‘more groups’.”
WNC currently runs three groups a month, one for ages seven to 11, one for ages 11 to 14, and another for ages 14 to 18.
But with donations to the Lynn News’ Somewhere for Me appeal, the charity can expand the number of groups to provide young carers with even more support.
Last month, I went along to the North Lynn Discovery Centre, where the sessions are held, to talk to youngsters in the 14- to 18-year-old group.
Sarah, 17, who looks after her disabled mum, said: “The groups give us time out from life, and we get to see other people in the same boat as you, who understand what you’re going through at home.”
Fifteen-year-old Asher, who helps look after his younger brother, who has autism, added: “Not a lot of people, like at school, know that I’m a carer but because of the group it means I don’t have to struggle with it on my own.”
Jack, 16, helped care for his father before he passed away and now helps care for older, disabled sister.
He said: “You get to meet up with your friends and you get a break from your every day routine.
“It would be great if they were more often; like twice a month would be brilliant.”