YOPEY nomination for inspirational carer Alana

Alana Burbridge

Alana Burbridge - Credit: Archant

Teenager carer Alana Burbridge has been nominated for a Young People of the Year Award (YOPEY).

Alana, from Haddenham, has been caring for her mum since childhood – sometimes coming home from school and finding her drunk – but it has not stopped her education.

In fact, her experiences have made her more resilient and she has grown in confidence to the point where she helps other young carers and also gives talks to professionals about support for them.

Now that effort and determination has earned her a YOPEY nomination. The awards are backed by Cambridge Regional College.

The competition reveals, recognises and rewards young positive role models across Cambridgeshire and there is £2,000 in prize money for winners to share with the community.

Eighteen-year-old Alana, of Perry Close, Haddenham, was put forward for the competition by Andy McGowan, young carers project worker at Centre 33, a young people’s charity.

He said that Alana has been a young carer for most of her childhood, looking after her mum who has both depression and anxiety and has used drugs and had alcohol problems.

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Alana has lived with her dad, Colin, for the past six years but still has regular contact with her mum, seeing her most weeks.

Many young carers struggle to balance their domestic responsibilities with school. Figures show that on average young carers achieve nine grades less at GCSE and are twice as likely to be NEET –not employed, in education or training.

But Alana has shown great determination and resilience to do really well, getting the grades to go to Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge, and is now preparing to go to Susses University in September to study sociology and media, hoping for a career as a journalist.

Alana has raised awareness about the needs of young carers and their families and has also helped raise money for Centre 33 Young Carers Project. Alana helped run a music gig in Cambridge this year which raised more than £1,500 for the project.

Alana said that in her younger days she suffered a lack of confidence because of what she had to deal with over her mum and then had to learn how to live again and socialise because previously she had been isolated.

But she now gives presentations to show professionals how to identify carers and offer a helping hand and support.

“That is something I could not have dreamed of doing even just three years ago, standing in public and talking to around 120 people about my life and story and how I had to deal with mum,” she said.

“When I lived with her I did not know what she would do. I could come home from primary or secondary school and find her not there which could have been because she had been admitted to hospital or I could find her drunk and help her sober up.”

Alana said she had consciously been in this situation since she was around seven. “At times I felt very low myself and frightened and unsure of what to do.”

As well as Cambridge Regional College this year’s YOPEY is also sponsored by Linx, the international supplier of industrial printers based in St Ives, LifePlus of St Neots, Hutchinsons of Wisbech, G’s of Ely, TTP Group of Melbourn, ARM, Building Services Design, Cambridge Assessment, Kiss Communications, Stratagem IPM and Mathworks, all of Cambridge, and Peterborough Regional College. The awards ceremony will be held at Ely Cathedral in October.

Do you know somebody who deserves the title Young Person of the Year? To nominate logon to yopey.org or write, enclosing a stamped-addressed-envelope, to YOPEY, Woodfarm Cottage, Bury Road, Stradishall, Newmarket CB8 8YN for a paper entry form. Entries must close August 15.