Posted: 16 October 2012

Singing to support young people

This year's carol-singing season is just beginning. If you're among the hundreds of people who are organising a carolling event this year, thank you.

If you would like to organise your own event, we can help. You only need a good spot to sing, some of our bright and fun resources, and a group of willing singers. (Learn more about carol singing for us).

By carolling and spreading festive cheer you can raise funds to support our work with the vulnerable children and young people we help, such as the thousands of young carers across the UK. Anisha* is one such young carer.

Anisha’s story: 'I really want to say "Thank you so much"'

Our programme in Leeds received a referral to support Anisha with orientation and settlement in her new school. 

As an 11-year-old who was the sole carer for her mother (who has serious health problems and limited mobility), Anisha is an example of the 175,000 young carers across the country. Compounding Anisha's difficulties, she and her mum were new to the country, having travelled here to seek asylum.

We provided assistance to Anisha by arranging for things that she needed for school, such as a uniform grant (our project worker arranged for her to receive a grant and accompanied her when buying her uniform), free school meals, and help with travel to and from school. 

As she worked with Anisha, our project worker built trust that enabled her to continue supporting Anisha through more complicated issues. 

Young carers juggle responsibilities at home and school

At school, Anisha was anxious about being away from her mum, Neelah*, as well as juggling her caring responsibilities in addition to schoolwork. The project worker held a meeting with the school’s staff to inform them of Anisha’s situation. 

The school responded sensitively, allowing Anisha to phone home twice daily. They also allocated a mentor to provide emotional support and help with homework. 

In addition, our project worker acted as an advocate on behalf of Anisha and Neelah. This included making referrals and liaising with relevant statutory and voluntary agencies, finding suitable legal representation to support their asylum claim, as well as sorting out a chronic vermin problem in their home. The worker also helped arrange for suitable accommodation for Anisha while her mum underwent surgery. 

Coordinating support from the Home Office and social services

Securing financial support was one of the most difficult challenges Anisha’s family faced. Because Neelah was ill and had limited mobility, she was unable to satisfy the Home Office’s reporting requirements. Medical professionals had informed the Home Office of her ill health, but she still endured long periods without money to buy food.

In response, our project worker helped secure a detailed and up-to-date medical statement and X-ray for Neelah, then presented these to the Home Office and negotiated alternative reporting arrangements that considered Neelah’s restricted mobility.

When financial support was provided (in the form of emergency support tokens), Anisha had to travel to the city centre then back to her flat with the money. As an 11-year-old carrying her family’s much-needed cash, this journey left her and her mum extremely vulnerable. 

So our project worker negotiated with social services for a care worker to accompany Anisha when she cashed the support tokens, and helped with shopping, cleaning and attending appointments. Anisha said that this really helped to take pressure off of her.

'It's really nice to help people'

While Anisha still worries about her mum and being sent back to her country of origin, she has settled well at her school and her teachers are extremely happy with her progress. 

While she used to dream of being a lawyer when she left school, after her involvement with us, she says that she would like to work as a project worker to help others like her. 

She said: 'I like to say something to you. That you helped me and my mum a lot and I never seen these things in my country. When I met you I liked you so now my future plan is changed, I want to do this job. It's really nice to help people. I really want to say thank you so much.'

By Loretta Jones, Regional Fundraising Development Coordinator

Read more and get involved 

  • Support our work by getting involved in  carol singing this Christmas
  • Read more about our work in Leeds at our LEAP programme
  • Donate to support our work
  • Read more about our work in Leeds at our LEAP programme



* ‘Anisha’ and ‘Neelah’ are pseudonyms we have used to protect the real people’s identities.


By Loretta Jones - Fundraising and events team

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