Sunderland carer set for adventure on the high seas

A North East young carer is swapping her college studies for life on the ocean waves, thanks to support from a Wearside organisation dedicated to helping those who help others.

Phoebe Collins, 18, is taking time out from a painting and decorating course to take up the opportunity of becoming a Tall Ships crewmate, after she was selected for “sailor sponsorship” by Sunderland Carers Centre.

The teenager will be part of the crew of the Christian Radich, a Norwegian ship which actually won the first race of the Tall Ships Races in 2010. She will officially become a crew member between July 14 – 20 for the Sunderland to Esbjerg, in Denmark, leg of the races.

And Phoebe – who with twin brother David, are primary carers for their mother Joyce, who suffers from a range of mobility issues – can’t wait to set sail!

“I’m so excited,” she said. “There are no nerves at all, I just really can’t wait to meet the rest of the crew and start my time aboard the ship.

“It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity, not only to compete in this race, but also to soak up new experiences and different cultures.

“I could never have dreamed of taking part in anything like this without the help and support of Sunderland Carers Centre, which has been incredible, for selecting me for this opportunity and for all the support it has provided for me and my family over the years.”

Phoebe, of Pennywell, has already undergone a series of training exercises at Sunderland Yacht Club and is scheduled for more at the end of April, when she will be taught to row on the River Wear.

“I took a little while to consider it as I have responsibilities at home with caring for my mam,” she added. “But decided that I could not pass up this amazing opportunity and now it can’t come around quick enough!”

Every year, Sunderland Carers Centre provides essential support to thousands of carers, all looking after someone with a long-term illness, disability or frailty.

While at sea, Phoebe’s mother will be looked after by David, who will be supported by Sunderland Carers Centre, which organised the experience for, “one of our young carer champions.”

Sue Callaghan, Young Carers Activity Lead, said: “We are absolutely delighted to offer this opportunity to Phoebe, who has been using Sunderland Carers Centre since she was around nine years old. She is a real character who is both physical and vocal and perfect for the role of temporary sailor.

“Over the years, Phoebe has developed into one of our young carer champions and is a real credit to her family, so when the opportunity came to sponsor someone to join one of the crews, her name was among those at the top of the list.

“I can’t wait to hear about her experiences and it will be fantastic to share those tales with other young carers to remind them that there is a whole world out there to explore and we’re here to help them access the opportunity to do just that.”

Sunderland Carers’ Centre offers a confidential information, advice and support service to carers throughout the city of Sunderland (including Houghton-le-Spring, Hetton-le-Hole, Easington Lane and Washington). Services are confidential, non-judgemental and impartial and it acts as the “centrepoint” of support for all unpaid carers in Sunderland.

It is an independent, voluntary organisation, registered as a charity, and is a Network Partner of the Carers Trust, funded primarily by Sunderland City Council and the Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

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