This year’s High Sheriff of Oxfordshire Sarah Taylor is on a mission to support the people she describes as “unsung heroes” – those who are dedicated to caring for family or friends who are ill. She has so far raised nearly £74,000, of which the majority will be distributed amongst charities supporting Oxfordshire carers.
Using the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire’s Charitable Fund, lodged with Oxfordshire Community Foundation, as a vehicle for her fundraising, Sarah has run various initiatives since she was sworn in as High Sheriff in April this year, including a high-profile dinner, concert and auction at her home Rycote Park. These activities have brought in nearly £74,000 for charity, with a portion of this donated to the High Sheriff’s endowment fund – a ring-fenced investment into OCF’s endowment fund. This endowment will provide long-term income from which grants can be made over time – potentially into perpetuity.
In the immediate, the High Sheriff’s fund will be able to give nearly £55,000 away this year to the various local charities that support carers. This comes as OCF publishes its own research, Oxfordshire Uncovered, which highlights the plight of young carers in particular. The report finds that there are nearly 2,300 identified young carers, but that only 200 of them receive active support. What is more, Oxfordshire Young Carers Service estimates that there are a further 12,000 unidentified young carers working under the radar to support unwell family members – with some carers as young as four years old.
Caring for another person can take its toll on the carer, and for young people in particular it has been found to have a detrimental effect on their mental health. One survey found that 75% of young carers experienced depression or stress in the previous year; and the 2011 census found that young carers providing more than 50 hours of care per week were up to five times more likely to report their health as “Not Good”.
To help provide much-needed respite for carers, Sarah Taylor has organised a series of free tea parties for them, with the final event happening on 13th September. See here for details.