Jack’s Special Haven

Seal on the beach

Jack’s Special Haven

For the past 3 years, Spurgeons has worked with Christian holiday organisation CPAS Ventures and Falcons to enable Birmingham-based young carers to have a summer holiday. Jack was one of them – he went to Fylingthorpe in 2018 and 2019. He loved it so much that this summer he returned as a volunteer helper.

Jack and his twin Jon look after their mum. At fourteen, they were referred to Spurgeons Young Carers for support and respite from their caring role. Spurgeons were able to invite them on a holiday to Fylingthorpe near Whitby as part of a group, led by Ann, an experienced CPAS volunteer. Youth leaders brought other groups of teenagers – there were about forty of them in all.

Jack, who has autism, was very anxious before he went. “We’d not had a break from the rest of the family before and I find it a bit hard being round new people.” But by the end of the week he was so settled that he didn’t want to leave, and had made new friends that he has kept in touch with since. “When I went this year as a volunteer myself, I discovered that the leaders know which young people might be nervous and take extra care to look after them. They are so good at chatting with them, making sure they are OK and listening if they want to talk.”

Jack is passionate about nature so he was in his element in the beautiful surroundings. “Where we stayed was right by the coast with amazing views and lovely peaceful grounds. Some of our group had never seen the sea before.”

There were crafts, sports and other activities on site, and excursions. “I really enjoyed visiting a seal colony at Robin Hood’s Bay,” Jack says, “and also being in the outdoor pool at Scarborough water park, being in the warm pool with cold rain coming down on my head!”

As he turned twenty this year, Jack is no longer part of Young Carers and is too old to go to on Fylingthorpe as a participant, so instead he went as a volunteer cook. “I love cooking. We made Sandcastle Cake – biscuit crumbs frozen in a sandcastle mold then filled with ice cream. I really got on well with Sue the head cook – I knew her from my previous visits and she showed me the ropes. Diane was another cook – it was her first time and we got on really well, chatting away as we worked. We had days off, so it still felt a bit like a holiday. Sue, Diane and I went on a boat trip from Whitby, got ice creams and went shopping.

“Going to Fylingthorpe has really helped me with my mental health, especially this year with the long pandemic. It’s like a big community – the people really make it amazing.

I don’t remember the times when I was anxious, only the good memories. Time flies when you’re there, and when you’re back there again you don’t feel like you’ve ever been away.”

Congratulations are due to Jack, who has recently been featured as ‘learner of the month’ as part of an employability scheme he was involved with.

Spurgeons has worked with CPAS Ventures and Falcons since 2018 to support young carers from our Birmingham project to have a summer holiday. 32 children and young people have been to 6 different ‘camps’ and 10 of those have returned, some twice. Young carers pay a contribution towards the break with the rest being subsidised by Spurgeons and CPAS. A limited number of places are available and Spurgeons colleagues identify which young carers would benefit most and are able to be away from home.

About Spurgeons Young Carers Services:

Spurgeons delivers support to young people up to the age of 18 who are caring for a family member with an illness or disability in the West Midlands through our Birmingham Young Carers and Wolverhampton Young Carers services. 

The Birmingham Young Carers service was a finalist in two categories at the 2019 Children and Young People Now Awards in the PSHE Education Award and the Young Carers Award for its particular focus on supporting young carers looking after a parent with a drug or alcohol dependency. 

To learn more about our work with Young Carers, click here.