IN HEARTWARMING Christmas cards youngsters have told carers that they are “special”.

The festive letters, from pupils at Covingham Park Primary School, are expected to bring smiles to the faces of carers this month.

In one card a pupil wrote to an unknown carer: “Remember, you make this world a better place.”

The messages – written as part of a school push to raise awareness of carers - came as Swindon Carers Centre responded to one charity’s warnings that schools must do more to support young carers.

Barnados found that almost a third of the teachers they polled nationally said they didn’t think their school had plans in place to support young carers.

Chief executive Javed Khan said: "Schools need to take more responsibility to make sure young carers are properly supported."

But Fiona Prinzi, deputy chief executive of Swindon Carers Centre, said that her charity was working with 64 Swindon schools and colleges through their young carer award scheme.

She said: “We launched our award for schools as a pilot in 2010 because young carers were telling us they weren't getting the support or recognition they needed.

“Each school that completes the award reports improved attendance, engagement and attainment for young carers in their school.”

Colleges and schools involved nominate a “young carer lead”, who offers a range of activities to young carers known to the school.

The scheme helped inspire a nationwide schools programme, organised by the Carers Trust and Children’s Society.

Fiona added: “We think it’s great that they have developed this programme, which makes a difference to young carers in schools across the country. We urge other regions to be involved.”

Sarah Blackwell has been young carer lead at Covingham Park Primary School for a year.

As well as running a support group for young carers at the school, she also encourages all pupils to get involved in raising awareness and funds for unpaid carers in the town.

This year her key stage two classes wrote Christmas cards to carers. They will be distributed by Swindon Carers Centre.

Sarah said: “I wanted to do something that would put a smile on people’s faces.”

In one card a Covingham pupil told a carer: “You’re special – and remember that.

“Don’t let anyone get you down, because what you do for other people is amazing and the people that try to get you down will never know how amazing you are.”

Another wrote: “Remember, you make this world a better place.”

Covingham this week won an ambassador award at the Swindon Young Carers awards.

Teacher Sarah said of the scheme: “It teaches the children to be more aware of what’s happening around them – what their parents might do for their grandparents.”

Ann Giles, Swindon Carers Centre’s schools development officer, said that schemes to identify young carers at schools and support them “makes it so much easier for everyone in the school”.

She added: “If a child comes in and they’re having a rough time or they’re tired and don’t want to focus because they’ve been up caring for their siblings, teachers can see that it’s because they’re a young carer.”

For more about Swindon Carers Centre, visit: