A TEAM of graduates has been working with the charity Carer Support Wiltshire to make it easier for young people to cope with university or work.

The team of six from Nationwide were given the task of developing an online support service for young adult carers across the south west.

The project is part of the Nationwide's emerging talent graduate development programme and the graduates worked with Carer Support Wiltshire, a group of young adult carers and the organisation Three Hands.

The team had 14 weeks to research and develop the strategy for an online service for young adult carers. The service will act as in initial engagement point with advice, information, supervised peer support and signposting to further support available locally.

Hamish Stark from the team said: "These carers sacrifice a huge amount and do a truly fantastic job, I can’t imagine how hard it must be doing it full time. Having looked after my grandfather to give my granny a break twice a week I have enormous admiration for carers.”

Recent research from Carers Trust showed that young adult carers are suffering a range of set-backs in pursuing their goals, with 82 per cent reporting stress and 73 per cent saying they have to take precious time off school and learning specifically to care for a family member.

Many don’t see themselves as carers and are unaware of the support available to them. This often means they miss out on vital opportunities that many young people take for granted, such as higher education and career choices.

For the young adult carers who have been helping on the project it has been an opportunity to develop new skills and use their experiences of caring. Danielle Hewer from Chippenham cares for her mum who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Danielle, 26 who was recently shortlisted for Wiltshire Life Magazine Carer of the Year Award, was keen to get involved and help others who may be new to caring.

“It was a chance to be myself again and meet new people. I knew it would be something that would be useful for young carers. I would have loved to have had something similar at the start.”

Carer Support Wiltshire chief executive Catherine Hurford said: “There is something very special about the transformational difference our work can make to some of the younger carers we support – the realisation that they are not alone and helping them explore life opportunities. This forum will link young adult carers across the south west – and we are delighted that Nationwide’s young graduate team has taken this project to their heart."