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Young carer Kajus given Diana Award one year after mum’s tragic death

Release Date: 06 Nov 2017

An eight-year-old boy from east London who cared for his terminally ill mum for three years was commended for his selflessness at the Diana Award ceremony, shortly before the first anniversary of her death.

Barnardo's young carer Kajus Vaivadas was given a Diana Award just before the anniversary of his mother's death.

Kajus Vaivadas was only five when his mum, Ingrida, was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. As Ingrida’s condition worsened, Kajus carried on caring for her every day at their home in Forest Gate, east London, while attending nearby St Peter and Paul’s Catholic Primary School.

Tragically, Ingrida died one year ago at the age of 49, on November 1, 2016.

Kajus was nominated for the Diana Award, which is given out in Princess Diana’s name to young role models who selflessly transform the lives of others, by staff at Barnardo’s Indigo Young Carers Project in Ilford, which continues to support Kajus as he comes to terms with life without his mum.

Barnardo’s Project Worker Alison Connolly went with Kajus and his family to the Diana Award ceremony at Barclays headquarters in Canary Wharf on October 13.

They were joined by a former neighbour of Kajus and Ingrida, who described how the young boy would often help prepare food for his mum, who was weak from her illness, while also giving her medication and helping to clean the home.

Barnardo’s Project Worker Alison Connolly said:

Kajus’s neighbour said his mum would have been incredibly proud and happy for him to receive this award, because she loved him so very deeply. I felt so proud and privileged to be there, it was wonderful and truly inspirational.

Kajus is an exceptional boy. He brought so much joy to his mum’s life and gave her a reason to battle her condition.  It was just the two of them in the house and Kajus did everything he could to help, never complaining that he couldn’t enjoy the things his friends could.

Kajus is now learning to live without his mum, and his attitude to life is an inspiration to everyone who meets him. He is so cheerful, friendly and helpful, and through the Barnardo's Young Carers group he offers positive support to many other young children who are experiencing what he has been through.

Kajus is now living with his father and he continues to support other children who face similar situations in Redbridge by helping out at Barnardo’s fortnightly young carers’ club.

Kajus said:

I loved looking after my mum and I really miss her. I just like helping other children like me so they don’t feel that they’re on their own.

Lynn Gradwell, Director of Barnardo’s in London, said:

Kajus is an inspiration to all our young carers, staff and volunteers alike and we’re so pleased that his positivity and kindness to others have been recognised with a Diana Award.  It feels especially poignant on the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death, with Prince Harry and Prince William having spoken out about the emotional impact of losing their mum.

Young people who would like to find out more about how Barnardo’s supports young carers can visit www.barnardos.org.uk/what_we_do/young_carers

ENDS

Notes to editors

For more details please contact Dan Hodges on 07887 737 048 or email dan.hodges@barnardos.org.uk

More pictures available. Captions: Kajus Vaivadas, eight, has been given a Diana Award for looking after his mum, Ingrida, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Kajus is also pictured at the awards ceremony at Barclays in Canary Wharf on October 13, with dancer Wayne Sleep and Tessy Ojo, chief executive of the Diana Award.

The Diana Award is given out in Diana, Princess of Wales’ name to young role models who are selflessly transforming the lives of others. It recognises young people who go above and beyond in their daily lives to create and sustain positive change in their communities and in the world. For more information please visit diana-award.org.uk

Young carers

Young carers are children and young people under 18 who provide regular and on-going care and emotional support to a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or misuses substances.

The average age of a young carer is 12. Their day to day responsibilities often include cooking, cleaning, shopping, providing nursing and personal care and giving emotional support.

The 2011 census identified 178,000 young carers in England and Wales alone.

Barnardo’s runs 20 services across the UK, including Indigo Young Carers in Granville Road, Ilford, which work to support young carers and their families by:

•Helping the family to find the support they need, and are entitled to, from local services, so that a child’s caring responsibilities can be reduced

•Supporting young carers to use local sports clubs, support groups and health centres

•Providing advice and emotional support through counselling and drop-in sessions

•Liaising with schools so that teachers can better support their students

•Providing opportunities for young carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities, spend time with other young carers and share experiences

•Providing opportunities for young carers to learn more about their parent’s illness or disability

Barnardo’s

Last year 272,000 children, young people and families were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 1,000 services across the UK, including young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, and through training and skills or parenting classes.

We work to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and every year we help thousands of families to build a better future. But we cannot do it without you.


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