Activity days for young carers in Dorset

With an estimated 700,000 young carers in the UK, a huge number of children and teenagers are relied upon to help care for family members.

MYTIME Young Carers is a charity based in Dorset which provides young careers with the support, friendship and opportunities that every child deserves.

We provided the charity with funding from our 2020 Community Fund to hold activity sessions for young carers in the area.

Penny Day, Fundraising Director at MYTIME Young Carers, tells us more.

About MYTIME Young Carers

Our mission is to level the playing field for young carers by providing them with essential support.

But what is a young carer? A younger carer is someone under the age of 18 who helps to look after a family member with a disability, illness, mental health condition or drug or alcohol dependency.

From our previous work, we know that children and teenagers in caring roles can experience feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Through our tailored programmes, we aim to create vital opportunities for these young carers to meet one another, build support networks and form friendships.

Young carers getting ready to climb at Burnbake Ropes Course in Dorset
Young carers getting ready to climb at Burnbake Ropes Course in Dorset.

A day out at Burnbake Ropes Course

After receiving funding from Wessex Water’s Community Fund in 2020 to hold a series of activity session for young carers, we were gutted the sessions couldn’t go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Once restrictions were eased during summer, we took two groups to Burnbake Ropes Course on separate occasions where each group enjoyed hours of rope climbing.

In total, we took 23 children – this was less than intended, but it was necessary to take smaller groups to ensure social distancing at all times.

The grant created the opportunity for local children to socialise, make friends and spend time away from their roles as young careers.

The girl in the green raincoat

In any group of young carers, there's always a range of characters, and the groups on these days were no different to any other. Some were bold and brave, others were more apprehensive and nervous.

One girl, wearing a bright green raincoat, seemed almost frozen to the spot when she arrived. She was quiet and shy as she knew none of the other children.

After eating lunch, the instructors arrived and gave the kids their harnesses and helmets. By now, the children were laughing and joking with one another. All except the girl in the bright green raincoat.

As the first child prepared to brave the dizzying heights of the high ropes course, I turned away to help another with her harness. When I turned back, I couldn't believe my eyes. The girl in the green raincoat was already at the very top of the course.

As she made her descent, a very definite smile had spread across her face. As less confident climbers stepped forward one by one to take their turn, she showed patience and enormous kindness in supporting them to overcome their fears. By the end of the day, she was giving instructions, sharing techniques and asking others for their advice.

It's remarkable the difference that just one day can make. For some, a group of supportive peers can have a huge impact. For others, it's about having the chance to try something new, and turn off from everyday stresses. For the little girl in the bright green raincoat, it was about excelling at something and feeling accepted and admired by her peers.

Before she left, she completed a survey for us. She ticked the box that said she'd gained more confidence. She ticked the box that said she'd made friends. Even better, she ticked the box that said she'd like to come back and take part in another activity in the future. Who knows what impact the next day out might have on her!

Find out more about what we do and how you can support our work at