YOUNG carers will have the chance to let their hair down and learn something new at a forthcoming fun day.
A Christmas party and pantomime trip is being planned for 50 children and young people from across Portsmouth who care for a sick or disabled parent or sibling.
The day will start with a visit to Southsea Fire Station where the carers will be able to watch demonstrations, explore a fire engine and use the firefighters’ hoses to put out pretend fires.
They will then be treated to a feast with party food, cake and ice cream before going to the Kings Theatre, Southsea, to enjoy the afternoon performance of the panto Cinderella.
One young carer from Cosham, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Events like this give you the chance to experience the childhood that we often miss out on because of caring.
‘Young carers often miss out on going out with friends and family because their home responsibilities don’t allow them the time, so any chance to be a normal child or teenager is great.’
There are an estimated 200 young carers in Portsmouth and up to 50,000 across the UK.
Charlie Harris, of Hampshire Fire and Rescue’s business fire safety team, said he was delighted to be able to do something for a group of people who helped others.
Mr Harris said: ‘It’s important that we give back to the community we serve, and it’s great that we can support young people who make so many personal sacrifices at the same time.
‘By doing this we get to give them a little bit of their childhood back.’
Mr Harris said the carers had a lot of responsibility for their age.
He said: ‘In addition to the daily tasks they complete for their parents such as housework, cooking and bathing they live with the added pressure of school and often a lack of understanding from their peers.
‘The physical and emotional strain is sometimes too much and many young carers find themselves skipping school and suffering from depression.’