Margaret Skagias - Westfield Local Heroes 2020
Recognising young champions
Passionate. Dedicated. Caring.
It was while working as a social worker that Margaret Skagias recognised the unique contribution of thousands of Australian children who take care of parents or siblings with a disability or illness.
These young heroes are often isolated and may take on housework, shopping, cooking, personal hygiene care, liaising with health professionals and financial matters.
In 2014, Margaret founded volunteer-run CaringKids. She and her team make up toy boxes for young carers so they can feel that their contribution and role is honoured and recognised.
The mental health challenges these children can face are real, with people rarely considering the impact illness can have on the carers in a family.
Any child who is not already connected to ongoing support is connected to a service such as Little Dreamers, Margaret says.
She is proud that the toy boxes contain pre-loved toys that are saved from landfill.
"There are thousands of special needs siblings and young carers in Australia.
They are hidden, unsupported and experience social isolation, financial hardship and lower rates of education and achievement than peers who do not have caring responsibilities," Margaret says.
"It is my belief that carers of all ages in Australia need recognition for the unpaid care they provide."
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. CaringKids will use its grant to fund endeavours including the provision of 200 toy boxes to special needs siblings and young carers and the rehoming of about 8000 pre-loved donation items.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here