PUPILS’ eyes were opened to the reality of life as a young carer as part of a week-long awareness campaign which saw them raise nearly £1,700 for children shouldering big responsibilities.

As part of National Carers’ Week last month, Shaw Ridge Primary School received a visit from Swindon Carers’ Centre staff who offered an insight into the difficulties thousands of young people experience every day, juggling school and looking after a parent or sibling.

As part of the charity’s Young Carer Award programme, all 375 pupils held their own Walk A Mile In My Shoes event to collect funds towards short breaks and holidays for unpaid carers.

And they succeeded in raising £1,679.

“They all took part and even the foundation stage, who are five, did at least one or two laps,” said Jill Edwards, a teacher and young carer lead at the school.

“We expected to raise £200 or £300 and we ended up with this huge amount of money. ”

“But this was a small part of it and we tried to raise awareness of young carers through assemblies and lessons. “We have some young carers within the school, so I think that brought it home to our children.

“Hopefully with the money, young carers will benefit from days out and activities.”

And the Young Carers Award programme was also an opportunity for teachers to understand the sort of issues children looking after a relative face daily.

“It made teachers aware as well of what young carers do,” she said.

“It’s important that the school recognises that these children are carers.

“If we can help at school, and if the teachers can support young children who are carers and make it easier for them, it will have been worthwhile.”

Cath Johnston, chief executive of Swindon Carers Centre, was delighted to accept the students’ cheque on Wednesday.

“One in eight of us is a carer,” she said. “These funds will help us support the 19,500 carers of all ages in Swindon.

“We can’t thank all the children at Shaw Ridge Primary enough for their magnificent efforts.”