Today (26 January) is Young Carers Awareness Day.
Crossroads Care Kent, one the club’s nominated charities, works with more than 160 children, some as young as five, who care for family members as well as trying to balance a normal childhood and school work.
The organisation runs six groups each month and one of those visited the Gallagher Stadium last week for a tour and the chance to watch a Ryman under 18 match.
Crossroads receives funding from the Children In Need charity but also has to raise additional income to support its work. There’s increasing demand for the service, with more than 75 currently on the waiting list.
James Marshall, the club’s resident drummer, is a support worker for Crossroads. Having been supported by the charity, he knows all too well what it’s like to combine caring with everyday life.
“I can’t thank Crossroads Care enough for the amount of support they have given me over the years, he said. Even past the age of 18 when my mother sadly passed away, they were all still there to give their amazing support which I am truly thankful of.
“Any child able to be a part of young carers must think themselves incredibly lucky. I was, and still am now, very proud and privileged to be a part of it all.
“Without young carers I certainly wouldn’t be the man I am today. I hope I can continue to be able to give my support to these young people for many years to come.”
During 2016, young carers in Maidstone and Malling visited the likes of Cobtree Manor Park, Gravity Trampoline Park, Kent Life and Leeds Castle. They also got to try gliding and windsurfing as part of other activity days.
Crossroads project manager Jan Hall said: “The children really enjoyed their visit to the Gallagher Stadium, especially the chance to have a kick about on the pitch and watch a game. Activities like that are a great experience and that’s what we try and provide for them.
“This Thursday’s Young Carers Awareness Day is really important to us. It’s so easy for the efforts of young carers to go unnoticed and this day shines a light on all that they do and what charities like ours are doing to support them.”
There are about 700,000 young carers across the United Kingdom. This year’s theme is ‘When I grow up’ and it’s all about helping young carers to achieve their dream jobs or career. There’s lots going on during Thursday and if you’re on Twitter you can follow it by checking out the hashtag: #YoungCarersAwarenessDay
For more information about the work of Crossroads Care Kent and how you can get involved, visit www.carerskm.org