Young Carers Champion
1198. Blake Leonard
Blake Leonard, aged 10, from Suffolk, works to raise awareness of the issues facing young carers like himself.
Blake started caring for his mum, who has multiple sclerosis, at the age of 5. Concerned about the bullying facing young carers who are often excluded from activities with other children because of their caring responsibilities, Blake runs talks and briefings to share his own experiences and combat stigma. At a recent event in Westminster organised by the ‘Carers Trust’, Blake spoke to Members of Parliament and his speech helped offer an example to the MPs present of the issues that young carers face, which will help shape the Ofsted 2019 draft framework. After hearing from other young carers, at the Westminster event, Blake organised a project to help others who are less fortunate than himself, by collecting 500 Easter eggs for ‘Suffolk Family Carers’ to give to children in need.
Blake’s local MP James Cartlidge supports Blake’s advocacy work and presented him with his award at Westminster (pictured below). Blake’s award coincides with Carers Week, the annual awareness campaign to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers.
In a personal letter to Blake, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“You should feel very proud of your recent speech at Westminster which has helped Members of Parliament understand more about the amazing care you give your mum. By speaking about your daily life, you are giving a voice to young carers across our country. Well done.”
James Cartlidge MP said:
“I was so profoundly moved by Blake’s personal story, and pleased to be able to
award him his Points of Light award on behalf of the Prime Minister. Blake is only ten
and as a father of a ten year old boy myself it’s so impressive to hear his story. He
not only cares for his mother, but has somehow found the time to still think of others
beyond home, and to help them with his brilliant effort, gathering hundreds of Easter
eggs for other young carers. I look forward to helping Blake at Christmas when he
seeks another round of ‘Chocs for Champs’ and will do my best to assist in
promoting that effort on social media”.
“I am still lost for words about winning the award but I hope it will help choc’s for champs get even bigger.”
Elizabeth Leonard, Blake’s Mum, said:
“I am incredibly proud of him for stepping up to help other young carers and raise awareness of what they do. He works so hard to help me every day and inspires me completely.”
Giles Meyer, CEO of Carers Trust, said:
“We are delighted that Blake has been acknowledged with this award for bravely sharing his own experiences as a young carer with Members of Parliament and asking them to pledge more support for young carers like him. As many as 1 in 5 secondary school aged children are caring for a family member or friend who is disabled, physically or mentally ill, or misuses substances. Blake is an incredible advocate for them, making sure there is greater awareness of the challenges they face, and a better response to their needs.”
Suffolk Family Carers added:
“Suffolk Family Carers are incredibly proud of Blake and are so pleased that he has been recognised as a Point of Light. Blake has a passionate approach to raising awareness of young carers, both locally and nationally and has bravely shared his own experiences to increase understanding, support identification and reduce stigma.”