Young Carers Salute Healthy Eating with Boost from Charity Partner

24th April 2012

Young carers across Sheffield kick started the year with a rosy glow thanks to the culmination of an exciting project all about promoting healthy eating.

   '29-Minute Meals', a recipe book hot off the press, would not have been possible without the backing of Sheffield-based law firm Irwin Mitchell and a host of other committed partners, and is now on sale to support young carers across Sheffield. The book was designed and printed by Irwin Mitchell with young carers' input as part of a year-long raft of support to local charity Sheffield Young Carers Project (SYCP). It includes more than 20 cheap and healthy recipes, from snacks to main courses and desserts, aimed at supporting young carers (and others) who want to cook healthy meals for themselves and for family members they care for on a tight budget. It rounds off a five-month joint initiative with SYEDA (South Yorkshire Eating Disorders Association) during which 15 young carers aged 13-21 spent four days at Sheffield Hallam University's kitchens to try out recipes and gain skills in food hygiene, basic cooking and food preparation techniques. The recipes have all been approved by food and health lecturers at the University, which generously gave the use of its kitchens for free. A further dollop of inspiration came via a visit from James Wallis, head chef at award winningSheffieldgastro pub The Milestone, who shared his top tips for culinary success. The project is documented in a short, cookery show-style film, made possible by Pseudonym Films, and Russums, Tesco, Wilkinsons, Williamsons Hardware and 3 Source also supported young carers in their healthy eating quest by donating a range of cookery utensils and aprons for them to use at home. All young carers will receive a free copy of the recipe book. I've never made scrambled eggs before, said Jozie, a young carer aged 14. I made them for my mum for the first time after we learnt it. And she loved them! The project came about after SYEDA's staff members attended an event hosted by young carers. Saima Younis, SYEDA's community development worker, discovered through conversations with young carers that some of them were under or over eating in response to the pressures they face as carers of a relative with a long term illness, a disability, a mental health problem or a substance misuse issue. Saima was a key driving force behind the project, creating the recipes tested by young carers based on their feedback about food they enjoyed and wanted to learn to cook. We aimed to address the issues young carers brought to our attention, including healthy eating, food preparation, self esteem and body image concerns, said Saima. We wanted to get alongsideSheffield's young carers with help and practical support, to show them they are not alone. The plight of young carers is often hidden but alarmingly common. Research carried out by the BBC in 2010 highlighted that as many as 1 in 12 children and young people in the UK are taking on a mid to high level caring role for a family member; Sheffield City Council estimates that there are at least 2,000 carers under the age of  16 in our city. The impact of caring can include loss of normal childhood experiences such as playing and learning, with the knock-on effects felt into adulthood. I'm amazed and inspired by the young people we work with, said Liz Church, managing director of SYCP, which supports around 75 young carers at any one time. We're talking about young people who shoulder responsibilities such as helping a family member get washed and dressed, administering medication, taking charge of the family budget, giving emotional support or doing the cooking, cleaning and shopping. For most of us, childhood is a time of playing, learning and having fun, not a time of worry, isolation and stress. This recipe book will help raise funds and awareness of young carers' issues. We're very grateful to Irwin Mitchell, SYEDA and to all the other partners who made this project a success. We rely increasingly on the support of the Sheffield community to ensure we can continue reaching out to young people as young as 8 inSheffieldwho care for a family member. Irwin Mitchell is committed to being a socially responsible organisation and encourages staff to take part in a variety of volunteering projects through a comprehensive community programme that covers raising attainment in schools, supporting vulnerable groups and offering pro bono support to those who need it the most. Adrian Budgen, a Partner at Irwin Mitchell and Chair of the Irwin Mitchell Charities Foundation, said: We thoroughly enjoyed our partnership with Sheffield Young Carers, our Sheffield Office Charity of the Year in 2011. We have a long history of supporting our charities of the year through fundraising activities such as marathons, raffles and even simulating a climb ofMount Everestbut this is our first cook book. Sheffield Young Carers do a fantastic job of ensuring that young people who play an integral part in caring for their families receive the help and support that they need and it has been a great pleasure to have worked with them over the last 12 months. Associate Director and Irwin Mitchell Charities Foundation committee member, Karen Codling, who worked with Sheffield Young Carers on the development of the new cook book commented: Sheffield Young Carers provide such a valuable resource for young people within the city and it was a pleasure to have worked so closely with them on this project. Creating the cook book was a challenge but everyone from Irwin Mitchell who supported the project thoroughly enjoyed working with the young carers. It was a fantastic opportunity to see these young people who carry so much responsibility at home out of their every day situation working on a project that they were so enthusiastic about. Hopefully, by working with the carers and design team we may have even created some aspiring graphic designers and chefs in addition to the book. The recipe book is now on sale from SYCP for £4.99. If you would like to buy a copy or sell copies on behalf of SYCP, please contact Denise on 0114 258 4595 or email denise@sheffieldyoungcarers.org.uk To view the '29-Minute Meals' film, go to http://vimeo.com/31383499

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