The Steve Morgan Foundation has been praised for funding the life-changing role of a young carers support worker in Sefton, Liverpool.

Speaking after the three-year funding package came to an end, Vicky Keeley, CEO of Sefton Caters Centre, said the funding had transformed hundreds of young lives.

The Steve Morgan Foundation stepped in to help the charity in 2018 after they identified a gap in the support for young people who provide care for up to 20 hours a week.

The Foundation provided £75,500 in funding to pay for a young carers support worker for three years, which has been extended for another 12 months by The National Lottery Community Fund.

Sefton Carers Centre was set up in 1994 by a group of carers in response to the lack of support they said they received.

In 2017/18 the charity stepped in to run the Young Carers Services after identifying a growing number of young carers who weren’t been recognised in schools.

It’s estimated that there are more than 5,000 young carers aged between five-18 in Sefton and they’re much more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than non-carers.

Vicky Keeley said: “Young carers may have a family member they are caring for with a long-term or terminal condition or a sibling with conditions such as ADHD. We created a charter and now work with over 54 schools in Sefton to try and ensure young carers have the same opportunities as other people of their age and support them to stay and thrive in education.

“Many young carers are unable to build friendships in schools as they cannot bring friends home and are therefore seen as the ‘odd child’.  Bullying and isolation is not uncommon in the life of a young carer, leading to mental health and wellbeing issues. Many young carers remain hidden, worried that their family may be split apart.

“Thanks to the support of the Steve Morgan Foundation we were able to fund the role of a young carers support worker and gather evidence of working with young carers.

“The Steve Morgan Foundation put a lot of faith in us to deliver what we promised. We did that and we gathered the evidence that enabled us to secure The National Lottery Community Fund money we needed to take us to the end of the council contract.”

The role of the young carers support worker includes liaising with schools, colleges, children’s services and other organisations to identify young carers and develop bespoke 1:1 support for each individual to ensure that they are not providing excessive or inappropriate care.

Support has also come through online peer support groups and residential courses.

Vicky said: “We are able to support young carers at an early stage before they reach a crisis point. Through early intervention it is possible to change the course of a young person’s life.

“In the last 12 months we have supported 176 young carers. The online support groups are held three times a week and more than 550 online sessions have taken place.

“Along with online support the young carers team has continued to develop and distribute monthly age-specific activity packs containing quizzes, games, arts and craft ideas and recipes for young carers.

“Each pack also contains the contact information for the young carers team to encourage young carers and their families to contact the service if they need further support.

“Some of the young carers who have attended our residential courses have never been away from home before.

“The Steve Morgan Foundation funding changed the lives of young carers across Sefton, enabling children to access support in the most difficult of times.

“We have been inspired by the Steve Morgan Foundation not only in the development of our Young Carers Service but with the support we have received over the pandemic.

“As an organisation we have worked with many funders large and small but we feel that we have had a true partnership with the Foundation and we are very proud to have been part of this unique partnership and what has been achieved for young carers and the communities of Sefton.”

The charity has also produced four books for Sefton schools about what it’s really like to be a young person caring for someone with cancer, autism, dementia or mental illness.