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High 5 winner urges recognition for 'unsung heroes'

A former winner of the High 5 Awards run by Swansea Council to recognise inspirational city youngsters says carers are 'unsung heroes'.

Alex Atkins

Alex Atkins received the community award in 2013 as she juggled her studies at university with caring for her parents, volunteering with several organisations, as well as speaking on behalf of young people and young carers at the highest level including the Welsh Government.

Today she works at Swansea Carers Centre, a specialist voluntary organisation that provides support to carers, where she is the Young Adult Carers Project Coordinator helping young adult carers between the ages of 16 and 25.

This week is Carers Week and Swansea is thanking the 30,000 carers of all ages who are providing essential unpaid care to family and friends across the city.

Alex said: "Carers are unsung heroes who truly care about their loved ones and want the best for them, which most the time means making personal sacrifices. They go above and beyond to help the person they are there for.

 "My job involves shouting out where possible about young adult carers, making sure they aren't lost between childhood and adulthood and truly get the support and recognition they deserve.

"Also providing opportunities for them to have a break and feel young again and getting them involved in local and national platforms to have a voice and a say about issues that affect their lives.

"The pressures and demands on unpaid carers is huge and it is rarely discussed as people think it's just a loved one. This is true but what they are doing is going above and beyond what anyone else would be doing for their loved ones.

"Where possible we need to help these unpaid carers and offer support so they don't feel isolated or alone and I'd encourage them to access Swansea Carers Centre or an equivalent service in their area."

Alex said the coronavirus pandemic had made an already challenging situation even harder for many Young Carers and Young Adult Carers so it was important they have a chance to speak to someone, either face to face, on the phone or by text, and know that there is support is available to them.

"We created more than 60 wellbeing packs for young adult carers and seeing their smiles on their faces was an amazing moment," Alex added.

"They really were grateful for the packs and we also made period packs for the female Young Adult Carers and household cleaning packs too, which they were so chuffed to have them."

Cllr Clive Lloyd, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Community Health Services, said: "My message to the many thousands of carers who are doing a tremendous job day-in-day-out is that we are here for you.

"Yesterday (Thursday) we lit up the Guildhall in tribute to you as well as to increase the visibility of the vital work you do to a wider audience."

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