MELKSHAM councillor Nick Holder has called on local businesses to back plans for an end-of-lockdown party for the town’s ‘forgotten army’ of young carers.

Mr Holder, who represents Melksham Without South on Wiltshire Council, said: “They are a bunch of young people that during lockdown have been largely forgotten.

“At the Melksham Area Board, I was delighted to receive unanimous support for my proposal to ring fence some grant money to enable us to hold an end-of-lockdown thank you event for Melksham’s young carers.

“These children are possibly the most forgotten amongst all of those affected by lockdown. They care for their siblings and parents and the only respite they get is when they go to school and have fun with people of the same age.

“But during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, they have had very little respite from caring for family members because they have been unable to go to school.”

Mr Holder, 61, has been given close to £2,500 for the end-of-lockdown party, which he hopes to stage at Young Melksham’s premises at the Canberra Centre in Spa Road, on a date yet to be fixed, depending on when lockdown ends.

He added: “We have already had a fantastic response from local businesses. Four or five have already contacted us to offer donations, gifts and their time.

“We will be going back out to local businesses nearer the time when we have fixed a date for the party to ask for further support.

“If there any any businesses out there who would like to get involved please private message me.”

Mr Holder is the Conservative Party candidate for the new Bowerhill ward on Wiltshire Council in the May local elections. He is also chairman of the Melksham Area Board’s Health & Wellbeing sub-committee, which was awarded the grant.

Mr Holder said the area board is coming to the end of its life under the current make-up of Wiltshire Council and had some funds which had not yet been allocated.

“Rather than giving them to organisations helping the elderly, we decided to apply for a grant to help the young carers in the town. We proposed that some money be set aside for an end-of-lockdown party for the Melksham young carers.

“We will be working with Youth Action Wiltshire to identify them and to get as many as possible to attend,” said Mr Holder, who is also the deputy chief executive of South West charity Cintre, which helps disabled people.

It is understood that 48 young carers are registered with Youth Action Wiltshire. A young carer is someone aged 18 or under whose life is affected by caring for at least one family member, over and above just ‘helping out’.

Young carers might be looking after parents, grandparents, their brothers and sisters, or other close relatives.

Many come under the wing of Youth Action Wiltshire and Carer Support Wiltshire, which offer them support, coaching, mentoring or fun activities that will give the young carer a break from their caring role, a chance to have fun and meet other young carers, and to learn new skills.