During UK Carers Week, Brentford FC Community Sports Trust highlighted how they gave Mia, a young carer for her mum, an experience she would never forget.
With the noise levels escalating, and a sea of red scarves behind her, 14-year-old Mia Lloyd nervously took her position at the side of the pitch as Brentford FC’s official photographer for the match against Blackburn Rovers back in February.
She took part in the football club’s first Community Takeover, which saw ten children from eight Brentford’s community projects, go behind the scenes and join matchday staff to learn the ropes.
Mia, who is a young carer for her mum, joined Brentford FC Community Sports Trust’s young carers project when she was eight, and credits the project with igniting her passion for photography.
Her eight-year-old self could scarcely imagine that, six years later, she would be photographing Brentford’s most high-profile players and have her work showcased on Brentford FC’s website.
“I really enjoy photography – it has allowed me to express myself and I was honoured to be able to photograph a team that I have supported since I was little. It is only through the Ealing Young Carers Project that I have been able to develop my passion for photography.”
And for Mia’s mum, Jacky, the day proved a ‘proud mum moment’ as she watched her daughter photograph one of Brentford’s most memorable matches of the season: the Bees fighting back from 2-0 down to win 5-2 against Blackburn Rovers.
“I have to admit I felt pretty big-headed seeing my daughter on the pitch in front of all those football fans; I never thought she would do something like this, so I am immensely proud to have witnessed that,” she explained. “Young carers need a break and deserve to be ‘normal’ teenagers like everyone else – I think it is a fantastic project.”
With 700,000 young carers living in the UK, the Trust’s young carers programme aims to provide teenagers like Mia with much-needed respite. Commissioned by Ealing Council, the project gives carers between eight and 18-years-old somewhere to socialise, learn new skills and gain in confidence. Since the project has been commissioned to the Trust, participation has gone from 25 young carers to nearly 200.
Along with photography, meeting other young carers has proven a lifeline for Mia.
“Meeting other young carers has been great as they understand what it’s like to be ‘me’. The project has helped build my confidence and I can share experiences with other young carers.”
Kathryn Sobczak, the Trust’s Young Carers Coordinator, has seen first-hand the change in Mia.
“The fact that Mia took part in the Community Takeover and took photographs of professional footballers in front of thousands of people is testament to how far she has come,” Kathryn said. "When I first met Mia, she was quiet. But now she has grown in confidence and made many friends.”
The project also offers one-to-one mentoring and a wide range of activities, including: after-school homework clubs; lunchtime clubs; fortnightly youth clubs; fortnightly swimming clubs and day trips.
Employment and education opportunities are made available too, including work experience placements and CV writing.
If you know someone who could benefit from our Young Carers project, you can contact Kathryn at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 8326 7044