Back to February 2018

Leeds Building Society Foundation helps young carers

Their usual daily routine involves housework or helping to look after siblings but thanks to Leeds Building Society Foundation young carers are enjoying free time in the outdoors.

There are nearly 166,000 young carers across England,* with many forced to grow up quickly. Some are as young as five and many are still at primary school. In Leeds it is estimated there are 4,000 youngsters aged between five and 17 looking after loved ones.

Leeds Building Society Foundation** has shared £10,000 between Barnardo’s Willow Project, which supports young carers and Skelton Grange Environment Centre in Stourton, Leeds. The donation means youngsters can enjoy fun activities and learn about the environment.

Luke Wellock, Secretary of Leeds Building Society Foundation and the Society’s Corporate Responsibility Manager said: “We’re delighted to support these two projects, which are of huge benefit to children and young people, giving them a much-needed break and renewed energy to continue their essential caring role.”

Sylvia Shatwell, Service Manager for Willow Young Carers, said: “This grant will make such a difference; it gives them a chance to just be kids. Seeing them running, smiling and having a bit of an adventure is just brilliant.

“We work with five to 17-year-olds, so some of the carers are very young. When they are so young, it’s not so much a practical role, it’s the impact of having a parent or sibling that’s ill, perhaps they cannot go out in the same way or they are sad they are ill.

“This is quite a hidden issue really; we estimate there are up to 4,000 young carers in Leeds alone.”

Young carers provide a variety of support including shopping and housework, emotional encouragement, helping somebody get dressed or looking after brothers and sisters.

Willow will use the donation to fund additional activities at centres including Skelton, to allow young people to enjoy themselves and take a break from their caring role.

Skelton, an environmental centre, which welcomes people of all ages, will use the money to buy a wide range of items including a microscope, to allow children to look at pond creatures, and climbing netting, to provide fun and educational environmental activities.

Ralph Walker, Skelton Grange administrator, said: “It’s really amazing to get this funding and it means more people can get access to their local environment. The more people learn about nature and understand it the keener they will be to take care of it in future.”


Notes to Editors

Young carers enjoy fun activities at Skelton Grange Environment Centre.


  • *According to the most recent census (Office for National Statistics, 2011), there are almost 166,000 young carers (aged 5-17) in England
  • A Department of Education research paper (February 2016) The lives of young carers in England found projects for young carers were an important source of formal support and respite.

**Leeds Building Society Foundation, which is independently run by a Board of Trustees, is funded in part by an annual donation from Leeds Building Society.  Members also donate the annual pence interest they earn on their savings to the Foundation.

The Foundation has donated more than £1.8 million to worthy causes across the UK and has helped more than 2,000 charities since its inception.

Leeds Building Society operates throughout the UK, Gibraltar and Ireland and has assets of £17.3bn at 30th June 2017 (£14.9bn at 30th June 2016). The Society’s head office has been based in the centre of Leeds since 1886.