A YOUNG woman who has helped to care for her family since she was six has visited Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister.

Samantha Richardson, 19, from Huntington, was invited to a reception with David Cameron as part of National Carers Week.

She was nominated to attend by a friend at the York Carers Centre in recognition of how much she helps other people. As well as supporting her mum, Linda, Samantha is studying to become a counsellor for young people and chairs meetings of the campaign group Young Carers Revolution.

The former Huntington School pupil was greeted by the Prime Minister and afterwards listened to a speech he made about the importance of the role carers play in society.

Samantha said: “Arriving at Downing Street was very surreal. When we were going through security it was like being at the airport. It was an absolute honour; it’s not something I will forget.”

As a child, Samantha took on the role of looking after her little brother, who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and supporting her mum, who has a degenerative spine condition.

She has been involved with the York Carers Centre – which supports and organises social events for 80 young carers, aged from eight to the age of 18, since the age of ten.

There are estimated to be up to 700 carers aged under the age of 18 in York who care for a relative with an illness, disability, mental health problem or a problem with alcohol or drugs.

About 13 young carers are currently on the waiting list to join the service due to limited funds.

Samantha said: “The Young Carers Revolution is keen to abolish the stereotype of the sob story when people talk about young carers. A lot of young people I have met have been very positive about the experiences they have had.

“We want to raise the issues facing carers and to identify hidden young carers.

“People definitely do not realise how many young carers there are. It’s quite shocking when you see some of the figures. There are carers younger than eight-years-old and for some of them there is no support.

“It’s heartbreaking to think that even though we are launching this campaign to identify all these young carers, the budget has been cut and people are on a waiting list.”

Last year, the Young Carer’s Revolution, a group of young people who campaign to highlight the difficulties faced by young carers, won the award for the best community project at The Press Community Pride Awards.