Young carers are my passion - Holly's story
Holly was first identified as a young carer when she was 13 and she has been passionate about advocating for young carers ever since. Whilst she was accessing support from Centre 33 herself Holly would volunteer to speak at events, deliver training to school staff and helped to train social work students. She has delivered many assemblies about young carers and has spoken on the radio about her own experiences of being a young carer and the support she has received from Centre 33.
Holly wanted to continue to support young carers now she is an adult as she feels she had the support when she needed it so she would like to give back to young carers, so they don’t feel alone, have a positive experience and that someone is there to care and support them.
Holly is studying at Oxford University but has continued to volunteer with Centre 33. She supports one of our fortnightly online young carers groups and attends face-to-face activities whenever she is able to, on occasion making a special trip back from Oxford during term time.
Our young carers groups give young people the opportunity to have some time that is just for them, to do some fun activities, and the chance to meet other young carers who are in very similar positions to themselves. All of Centre 33's volunteers are crucial to the running of thier groups, but young people particularly respond well to Holly. Young people trust Holly, they open up to her, and they respect her. Holly understands what it is like to be a young carer through her own lived experience, and she helps young carers to feel like they are less alone, she will help to motivate them by talking about her own caring role and what she has managed to achieve. She always makes time for the young people, she listens to them, is incredibly patient, and ensures everyone’s voice is heard. Part of Holly’s role as a volunteer at our group is to reach out to the quieter members of the group to ensure they are feeling included. This may be by including them in the discussion or activity, or by using the chat function to engage them. This is something Holly excels at, and she is passionate about ensuring all young carers are listened to. For a young carer, having someone in their life who is there just for them is so important. When attending face to face sessions, Holly is able to recognise the young people who perhaps need a bit of extra support. She will always make time for them and spend 1:1 time with them when needed.
Centre 33 encourage our volunteers to get involved in the planning and running of our sessions as much as they would like to. Holly always jumps at this opportunity and isn’t afraid to involve herself in any task or share her ideas. She has taken the lead on planning sessions and running fun and engaging activities and on occasion has stepped up to lead the group. when staff members have been having issues with technology. During these times Holly has calmly and efficiently taken over managing the group and leading on the content of the session.
Being away at university hasn’t been a barrier for her as she has prioritised her time to ensure she can remain committed to volunteering. She is reliable, arrives early and is always prepared for the session. When Holly is back from university, she will support with the running of face-to-face groups and activities whenever she can. Last Easter Holly supported young carers at a residential to Grafham Water. She recognised when young carers were feeling nervous or anxious about trying something new and she encouraged them to take part, often pushing herself out of her own comfort zone to help to reassure them and reduce their anxiety.
As well as volunteering with the young carers service, Holly has also fundraised for Centre 33. Last summer she took part in ‘Challenge 33’ where she was sponsored to visited 33 Oxford Colleges in 3 hours 33 minutes, raising vital funds for Centre 33.
Holly is also a keen advocate for young carers. She was disappointed her university doesn’t offer any support to young adult carers, so she has taken it upon herself to set up some support. She has already helped to identify other young adult carers and has arranged regular meet ups.
Holly will go above and beyond to make a difference in young people’s lives.
Holly will always try to help in any way she can, and she is a highly valued member of the Centre 33 team.