Festive fun lets families party on

Swindon Advertiser: The Christmas party at Citifaith Church. From left with Santa, Izzie, Jess Mensah, Tash Chilambo, Charlotte, Maddison and Grace The Christmas party at Citifaith Church. From left with Santa, Izzie, Jess Mensah, Tash Chilambo, Charlotte, Maddison and Grace

HUNDREDS of young carers and their families united in some festive fun on Saturday in the biggest Christmas party of its kind this year.

Hosted by Love Swindon and Swindon Young Carers, more than 300 children were invited to the festivities in Citifaith Church.

Entering the building through a snow-covered North Pole, the children were able to meet Santa and enjoy food, face painting and a bouncy castle.

Lucy Edwards, pastor at Citifaith Church, helped launch Love Swindon in April 2012.

She said: “The people who have come today are either young people who are carers or are being cared for themselves. It is an opportunity for families to bring their kids to something they may not usually be able to because of their disabilities.

“It is all about helping people get back on their feet who are finding things a bit difficult.

“The day has been amazing. We have had face painting, balloon modelling, and arts and crafts. There is also a sensory room for some of the kids who can’t handle too much noise.”

Julie Collar, team manager with Swindon Young Carers, said the partnership with Love Swindon was very welcome.

“A lot of our families have a child with long-term illnesses or disabilities, and it is hard for them to go out as a family,” she said.

“We have just under 500 carers registered with us. They can be anyone aged between 10 to 18 caring for a parent or sibling. It is very rare that we can get to a family event of this size. We are a charity so we rely on lots of donations.

“To be able to organise something of this scale would be impossible for us.

“There is also the Parent Carers Group here, who try to help change policy and deliver the right services.

“The day went brilliantly. To get this many people here has been amazing, and there have been lots of smiley faces.”

Shelley Dudley, 40, brought her daughters Megan, nine, and Isabelle, seven, to the event.

“It is nice to get away from home for a while,” she said.

“This has been a way for them to have a break from home life and be around some children their own age.

“They go to Swindon Young Carers on Mondays, and can’t wait for it every week. It gives them something to look forward to.

“I was quite worried about Christmas being a bit flat. It is normally huge, but this year it is just going to be the three of us.”

Grace Mack, eight, got stuck into the festivities: “I have loved the bouncy castle and all the food,” she said. “I really like it because it gives me a chance for me and my mum to get along, because I don’t usually see her.”

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