A TEENAGE Hereford carer who looks after her mum and grandparents has launched a petition calling on the county council to save the current young carers service.

Charlotte, who is 14 and from Hereford Young Carers club, looks after her mum who has PTSD and both of her grandparents who have various age-related illnesses and mobility issues.

The Whitecross teen launched the petition asking for Herefordshire Council to allocate enough money to continue the services provided by Herefordshire Young Carers Support.

The petition calls for the council to allow them to keep their young carers clubs, one-to-one support and trips.

Charlotte said: “At home I help my mum and I help my nan and grandad at the weekend.

“At my mum’s, I have to go to town with her to do the shopping because she panics and stops breathing.

“I help cook, clean, hoover, wash up and do the laundry as well as going shopping on my own.

“Before getting in touch with Herefordshire Carers Support it was really hard. 

“I used to worry about my mum when I was at school.

“I used to struggle getting my homework done and now I know I can do it at young carers.

“Staff at the young carers support service give me advice and coming to the club helps me talk about things that worry me. 

“It also gives me a break from caring.”

Susan Brace, young carer community development worker at Herefordshire Carers Support, helps carers aged between eight and 16 who are looking after a family member with an illness or disability.

She says the requirement of 7,000 signatures for a petition to be debated by the council is excessive and fears it dissuades young people from getting involved in local democracy.

Ms Brace said: “This wasn’t a simple task for Charlotte who is caring for two elderly grandparents with no internet access and no phone credit. Her attempts to put her petition online kept being emailed back.

“Each time she would have to walk to our office after a long day at school to resubmit it and then walk home to begin her caring role. It took her three weeks in total.”

Ms Brace said Herefordshire Council decided earlier this year to allocate £65,000 internally to develop its own offer to young carers.

However,  she said the service does not include the provision of ongoing one to one support, clubs or trips, which are the key things young carers say they need the most.

Chris Baird, Herefordshire Council's children's wellbeing director, explained that they had never funded Herefordshire Carers Support to provide a young carers service.

“Herefordshire Council has developed its young carers service through engagement with young carers and their families," he said

"The new service assesses the needs of each individual young carer and their family and agrees how best to support them to meet their needs.

"The aim of the service is to enable young carers to balance their caring role with their own needs and aspirations.

"It identifies the physical, emotional and practical help young carers and their families may need within their home, education and social environment and then provides assistance to put this in place. 

“There are charitable organisations in the county that play a valuable role in providing support to young carers that is supplementary to the statutory services provided by the council.

"These organisations are funded in a variety of ways, such as through local grants, central government funding and donations. The council supports them in locating and bidding for funding from external bodies.

“Herefordshire Council welcomes petitions and will consider the recent petition from Herefordshire Carers Support regarding the funding of some elements of the support they provide for young carers, through its established process which is set out in the petitions scheme available on the council website."