On Sunday the 10th of May, a group of young carers came to the University of Nottingham looking for an escape from their day to day life looking after their parents. The community outreach section of Karnival called Kontact planned a day of activities for them, called Young Carers Day, so they could forget about their worries and relax and have fun. Young carers are children whose parents are ill, disabled or otherwise unable to look after themselves. Young carers have a great responsibility from a young age, which is not how a child should grow up. While their friends are out playing football in the park or playing pretend family, young carers have an actual responsibility of care and have to use up a lot of their time looking after their mother or father, checking that they’re taking the right medicines at the right time, making them breakfast, lunch and dinner and putting them to bed. It’s almost as if the typical family roles have been reversed. A lot of us look back on our childhoods and think, ‘I wish I could go back and have no worries again,’ so it’s hard for us to comprehend how it must feel to have a life dependent on you at that age. It’s also hard for us to imagine being able to have fun in that kind of situation.
That’s where Karnival comes in. Being a charitable organisation based in Nottingham, we care a great deal about the local community and helping those around us. We decided to plan a day of fun and games with some university sports societies for these children who have lost their childhood so young, and create an environment where they could focus solely on being a child and having no responsibility.
In the morning, a group of Karnival reps and some members of the exec met with the Dodgeball Society (DodgeSoc) and played some dodgeball games in the sports centre. Already we could see that the children were really lightening up and enjoying themselves. Later on, after having a nice lunch, Karni reps took the children on a walk through the beautiful campus and saw some of the wildlife that has taken residence by the lake. After this cool down it was back to the fun and games, and the children learned how to juggle and played some juggling games. In the afternoon, NerfSoc came and set up lots of activities for the children to enjoy, giving them and the Karni reps free reign of their nerf guns. This was an incredibly fun part of the day, and we could really tell that the children had forgotten about any worries they might have had at home. It was also really nice to work with some other societies within the university, especially if it meant helping people in the community out. The last activity of the day was a quiz, in which the children fully took part and prizes were given out to the best answers. Throughout the day, the young carers were having so much fun we could hardly tell they were young carers at all. It was a very fulfilling feeling knowing we’d helped some local children to forget their problems and really make a difference to their lives. In one day, we made a positive impact on someone’s life who needed our help, and this, ultimately, is what Karnival is all about.
The first Young Carers Day was a huge success and Karnival would like to thank everyone who made it possible, including the Karni reps, the societies that came to help and the staff at the sports hall and a huge congratulations to our Kontact Director, Fran Vella for making it possible.
By Phoebe Brown, Nightingale Hall