Young Carers' Mentor Program
The role of mentoring is simple, but its impact on young carers is immeasurable.
Villa Maria Catholic Home’s (VMCH) Young Carers’ Mentor Program is the focus of our annual Christmas fundraising appeal. Grant funding for this unique initiative has run out and unless funds are raised quickly the program will cease.
Every child deserves the right to enjoy their childhood and adolescence, complete their schooling, and pursue their dreams. But, for hundreds of young people, caring for a loved one with a disability, physical or mental illness, achieving such goals is extremely hard.
The Young Carers Mentor Program connects young carers in the Hume region with mentors who provide them with valuable support and social opportunities. Young carers often face social isolation and depression, and drop out of school so they can care for their family member at home. Some are as young as nine and have little family, community or financial support. Research indicates that, if they are not adequately supported, their own health and wellbeing can be seriously affected.
Cobram teenager, Kaitlin Hamilton cares for her mother who has Multiple Sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair. Kaitlin has been her mum’s carer since the age of 12. She helps her with personal care, household duties and medical appointments. Kaitlin has limited time to socialise with friends, play sport or enjoy the things most teenagers do. She dreams of becoming a paediatric oncology nurse. “I want to help support young children who suffer from cancer and are also caring for a loved one,” she says.
Carers like Kaitlin greatly benefit from the VMCH’s Young Carers Mentor Program. Since being matched with her mentor Marion Craig, 12months ago, Kaitlin has enjoyed some much-needed ‘time-out’ from her caring responsibilities and support from an adult outside her family.
“Marion and I are very close and I’m able to tell her anything that happens or bothers me. I feel like Marion is a second mother to me and is always there if I need her.”
“Having a mentor is important for young carers as they face a lot of pressure and responsibility. They need a chance to just be kids. Being out and independent of home is a chance to feel special. They also have a chance to discuss issues that may be affecting them with someone neutral,” says Marion.
“As mentors, we are investing in the future of these young carers by providing them with much deserved support. A little investment can provide some long reaching joy.”
$40,000 is required to cover the salary of the program coordinator, Marion Rak, who recruits volunteer mentors, matches them with young carers, and oversees the program. It will also fund social events where the young carers can come together with their each other and their mentors for much-needed fun and relaxation.