VOLUNTEERS at a Hastings charity are celebrating after winning thousands of pounds to provide support for unpaid carers across East Sussex.

Care for the Carers has been handed £5,000 by Lloyds Banking Group Community Fund, beating off stiff competition from community groups across the region to land the prize after finishing in the top two of a public vote.

The charity supports young carers who look after a relative, friend or neighbour who is frail, disabled, or has a long-term illness.

The money will help fund sessions for children at clubs in Hastings, Eastbourne and Laughton – giving them the chance to play and have fun.

Business development manager Cheryl Butler says the money will prove invaluable for a charity that she insists is fighting an uphill battle to raise funds.

She said: “In the last 12 months we have worked with 202 carers in Sussex, but we know there are probably as many as 5,000 young carers in the area and we want help as many of them as we can.

“A lot of these young carers have essentially missed out on a childhood and the money we have been given here will try to address that.

“We can now run more clubs for them that gives them a space to relax, enjoy themselves and interact with people who are going through the same things as them.

“As a charity we do a lot of fundraising work because we want to set up more clubs in the area and this £5,000 will be a massive boost for us.

“These young carers have old heads on young shoulders and we want to give them the chance, away from their caring, to just be kids again and enjoy themselves.”

More than 200,000 people took part in a public vote online and at Olympic Torch Relay celebrations events between May and September to select who they wanted to receive the cash, part of £660,000 Lloyds is investing across the UK.

In total, 132 projects are set to receive £5,000 as part of the Lloyds Banking Group campaign and Community and Sustainable Business Director, Paul Turner added: “We are proud to be able to help Care for the Carers continue the great work they are doing in Hastings and the whole of East Sussex and we look forward to seeing the difference the award will make.”

Lloyds Banking Group has provided funding to 132 organisations around the country through its Community Fund in 2012.