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Reach for the Skies event is a soaraway success

​Young carers who look after family members with a mental health condition were “enthusiastic about the future” at the end of a two-day break in the heart of East Anglia.

Howard Tidman, Carers Champion for Great Yarmouth at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), was speaking after the third annual “Reach for the Skies” event.

Held at the Thorpe Woodlands Adventure Centre at Shadwell, near Thetford, 55 young people aged between 13 and 15 from all over Norfolk and Suffolk spent two days “glamping”. They all care for parents or siblings with a mental health condition.

The young carers took part in activities such as archery and a zip wire, and enjoyed entertainment provided by a singer, storyteller and fire-eater.

“It was a fabulous event,” said Howard. “It gave the youngsters a well-deserved break and there was very positive feedback – clearly, they really enjoyed it!

“What was particularly satisfying for me was that many youngsters left feeling enthusiastic about the future, which wasn’t always the case at the start.

“Reach for the Skies has now become a well-established and highly-valued event and I’m confident that we'll organise another one in 2020.”

Among the organisations which took part in a marketplace of information stalls were the police, army, fire service, University of East Anglia, University of Suffolk and a wind farm company keen to encourage girls to consider careers in engineering. Information was also available on subjects such as sexual health and dentistry.

Organised by NSFT, it was supported by many other organisations, including Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Young Carers (GYGYC) and its manager Terry Macrowan, Suffolk Family Carers, West Norfolk Carers and the Norwich Freemen’s Charity. NSFT is believed to be the only NHS trust in the country to organise such an event for young carers.

It is called “Reach for the Skies” because organisers want young carers to look up and realise they can be whatever they want to be in life.

Howard has personal experience of being a young carer because he looked after his own mother throughout his childhood while she battled alcoholism.

Last year’s Reach for the Skies was held at the Horstead Centre, a residential activity centre on the edge of the Norfolk Broads, and the first in 2017 took place at the Pleasurewood Hills theme park, near Lowestoft.

Caption: Sarah Hassan enjoys one of the many activities that were put on for young carers at the Reach for the Skies event.

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