AFTER receiving an unprecedented number of young carers referrals, a local charity launched, this week, an appeal to raise funds to help them keep supporting young carers in the coming year.

Bee Free Young Carers, is an independent charity in Didcot that supports the lives and wellbeing of young carers in Oxfordshire.

Due to the high number of referrals, the charity stopped accepting new ones in order to be able to deal with the backlog.

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Sabiene North, from Be Free YC, said: “We had to pause our registrations so that we can deal with the backlog of young carers that have been referred to us. It is a similar story with other charities. For example, Abingdon Bridge had to paused referrals because they were getting inundated.”

thisisoxfordshire: Be Free YC

Mrs North explained that the pandemic and lockdown, allowed them identify more young carers, but it is challenging to get the funds needed to provide help and support.

“I don’t think we have seen referrals at the level they are now. I think it is because the pandemic, lockdown and home-schooling have allowed teachers to see the children’s surroundings and their environment, as well as who didn’t have a laptop and why they were not coming to classes.”

The charity hopes to reopen referrals in January next year.

Digital poverty, mental health and self-harm are some issues that have been magnified and enhanced by the pandemic, according to the charity.

She continued: “For example, self-harm use something see with people at a secondary school age, but now we are seeing it in much younger carers. They look at it as a way to relieve themselves of stress and pressure.

“This is just awful, and they have all that on top of their caring role and schoolwork.”

They are expecting a huge demand in January, and they are hoping the funds raised will help them to get more staff and expand to be able to support more young carers.

Mrs North said: “This Christmas appeal is really important to us because, hopefully, people think about giving to local charities.

“Keeping money locally can have a big impact on the local community and remembering supporting a small charity. Money goes much more further with a small charity than it does with a larger one.”

She wants to ask people to remember the ones that were at the forefront of the pandemic and to keep them in mind when giving funds.

As a small charity, Be Free YC do not receive any government funding, therefore they depend on donations.

A young person aged 8 to 17 caring or helping to care for a family member can reach for the charities’ support.

By joining The Give Big Christmas Challenge, every donation made during will be doubled.

People will have seven days, starting November 30 until December 7, to give their donations.

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