YOUNGSTERS from a city drama group are hoping to make a difference to the lives of the increasing number of children who are becoming part of the nationwide army of young carers who face daily tasks of cleaning, cooking and shopping - besides going to school and doing homework.

Worcester Operatic and Dramatic Society's Youth Section - WODYS - has chosen Worcestershire Young Carers as its chosen charity for 2016 when it stages Les Misérables (School Edition) at the Swan Theatre in the summer.

The 65 members of WODYS, aged eight to 18, will present Les Misérables (School Edition) for six performances from Tuesday to Saturday, August 2 to 6, and proceeds of the interval raffles will go to the charity.

Worcestershire Young Carers work with youngsters aged between seven and 25 and are currently supporting more than 260 young carers.

Of these, there are normally about 30 young people receiving intensive one-to-one support from a key worker at any one time. This is normally a series of sessions running for about three months looking at supporting the young person through any areas of their lives they may be struggling with. It could be around education, bullying, increasing social activities, or just giving a listening ear around their caring role.

Key worker Neil Philips said: "The young people we work with are referred to us for a very diverse range of caring roles and responsibilities. This could be for a parent or a sibling or even a grandparent. It could be for a physical disability, mental health problems or substance dependency among other reasons.

"The extent of their caring roles also vary hugely – some of our young people will be primary carers, administer medication, lift, bathe, dress the cared for – others may support more by looking after younger siblings while parents are caring, while for some it is emotional support during bouts of depression or other mental illness."

Most of these young people attend a monthly club – run in Worcester at Perdiswell Young Peoples centre – as well as attending the organisation's programme of activities and trips. Last summer three groups of young carers were taken on day trips to the seaside, to see Worcestershire County Cricket club play and fishing for a day. There was also a three-day residential at Blackwell Court outdoor centre near Bromsgrove as well as a visit to Eastnor Castle.

The youngsters also visited Birmingham University; took a first aid course and visited the German Market in Birmingham a few days before Christmas.

David Humphries, WODYS’ chairman and producer of Les Miserables School Edition , said: “I feel that our group is very fortunate in being able to perform a musical each year at the Swan Theatre. During rehearsals and during show week, our members receive a lot of enjoyment and pleasure by taking part. This is why it we are very pleased to provide an opportunity for the public to help Worcestershire Young Carers, children who may miss out on opportunities that other children have because they are helping to look after a member of the family who is sick, disabled or has mental health problems."

Les Misérables (School Edition) is an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption. It is a fight for freedom and honour and features iconic songs such as I Dreamed A Dream, Bring Him Home, One Day More and On My Own.

Tickets - which are selling fast - are available from the Worcester Live box office in CrownGate shopping centre, Worcester, telephone 01905 611427.