Portsmouth's young carers are given a day off by city firefighters

CHILDREN who spend their days caring for family members were given time to unwind and have some fun.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 6:00 am
Young carers at Southsea Fire Station. Picture: David George

Portsmouth’s young carers spent their Saturday at Southsea Fire Station, where firefighters had arranged a Christmas party.

After fighting fires and sitting in the driver’s seat of the fire engines, the youngsters were treated to a party with food, music and gifts to take home.

Many of these children are full-time carers for members of their family, giving up their time to help out wherever they can.

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Katy Tash (14) and Hollie Alexander (14) at Southsea Fire Station for the young carers party. Picture: David George

The parties have been put on at the station for more than 30 years, with firefighters always being inspired by their stories of hard work,

Katy Tash and Hollie Alexander, both 14, have become close friends at a weekly club that meets at the John Pounds Centre.

Katy, from Portsea, looks after her dad at home.

She said: ‘My dad has a mental health disorder, so when he has a panic attack I give him his medication and look after him.

‘Days like this give us the chance to have some time off and to relax – we can just forget about everything else for the day.’

Hollie added: ‘This is the first year I’ve come to this but it’s been really good fun.

‘My cousin is disabled and lives with us, so I do my bit to look after her.

‘She struggles to go up and down the stairs so I help her with that.’

Meanwhile, Cameron Gibbs, 11 from Paulsgrove, cares for his younger brother at home.

His favourite part of the day was having a go on the hosereels.

He said: ‘This is so exciting – I’ve had a great time at the fire station.

‘I help my brother with doing stuff but it’s nice to help him.’

After an afternoon at the fire station, the youngsters were taken to the Kings Theatre in Southsea, with tickets paid for by the firefighters themselves.

Firefighter Vince Nicholl said: ‘We love doing this for the youngsters; a lot of them don’t get out a lot so it’s nice for them to have some time off.

‘We have so much respect for the sacrifices they make to help their families.’