Berkshire

Slough young carers scheme future secure

Generic woman standing at a window
Image caption The Children in Need funding means the project can run for at least another three years

Young carers in Berkshire have described how a support project has helped them cope with looking after their loved ones.

Slough Crossroads opens its doors for two hours each week, offering young people a much-needed break.

The service is open to children as young as four and offers advice and support throughout the week as well as weekly recreational activities.

It is one of hundreds of schemes helped by BBC's 2010 Children in Need appeal.

Zoe, 14, looks after her mother, who has multiple sclerosis, as well as her 10-year-old brother.

'Very lonely'

"This is the only thing I can come to during the week," she said.

"I can go out with my friends but I don't normally like to because I want to make sure my mum's alright and my brother's alright.

"I feel like if I am capable of doing something then why bring somebody else in when I can do it myself."

The Crossroads project offers Zoe one-to-one support, not just on Fridays but throughout the week.

She said she feels "honoured" to be able to look after her mother but added: "Sometimes I feel very lonely. If this stopped it would be a very dramatic change, not just for me but for everybody that comes here.

"Without this there would be no break for us."

In 2010 the branch, based at the Britwell youth and community centre, was forced to close for two months because of a lack of funding.

'Cuts everywhere'

It reopened with help from a local church.

The Children in Need funding of nearly £30,000 means the branch can continue helping young people for at least three years.

Trisha Hookumchand, who runs the project based at the Britwell youth and community centre, said: "We lost our funding and we understand there are cuts everywhere but it came to the point where we couldn't afford to keep the club open."

"The money from Children In Need means we know we are going to be here for the next three years and that's really reassuring - it's the first time since I have been running this project that there is some certainty about how long we are going to be able to do this.

"I can't tell you how much of a difference it makes, not only to the children's lives, but to their parents and their siblings."

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