Barnardo's Aberdeen Young Carers
A story by Barnardo's Scotland
We delivered short breaks for Young Carers and the Cared For in Aberdeen City. A wide range of breaks offered included days
out, school holiday activities, individual sessions, group sessions for young carers, siblings and the adults, therapeutic group work, volunteer outings and residential trips.
What Barnardo's Aberdeen Young Carers did
The activities focused on giving the Young Carer respite from their caring responsibilities, time to meet peers facing similar circumstances, and provided them an opportunity to engage in activities they would otherwise not get the chance to experience.
Young Carers enjoyed joint activities with the people they care for and other family members to encourage the whole family to spend time together, share experiences, and create new positive memories – therefore having a positive impact on the whole family’s health and wellbeing.
The short break activities offered were: Tailored one-to-one support that focused on reducing the impact of the caring role, the Young Carers health and wellbeing, support for change and loss, family support and meeting individual needs. Volunteer Befriender’s for identified Young Carers that supported with social opportunities, accessing a break from their caring responsibilities, and improving their health and wellbeing: included park visits, meals out, café visits, amusement parks, visiting historical sights, baking, trampoline parks, cinema, and craft sessions.
Monthly Saturday groups for Primary School and S1-S3 age groups: included coding sessions, 3D printing, practical cooking sessions, trampoline parks, park visits, skateboarding lessons, rock climbing and dance classes. Fortnightly evening groups for the S4+ age group: included theatre shows, spa treatments, ice skating, bonfire night celebrations, Lego building and meals out.
Monthly LGBT+ groups for 11-14 and 15+ age groups: included meals out, bowling, and pride parties. Music Therapy Group in specific Primary and Secondary Schools in partnership with ELM Music Therapy. Sports Groups in in specific Primary and Secondary Schools in partnership with Sport Aberdeen.
Filming Groups that encouraged Secondary age Young Carers to develop a short film surrounding their caring role. School holiday programmes included residential trips, cooking skills, food growing education and joint visits with other young carers to develop peer relationships. Weekly Adult Support Group included peer support and information- included spa/ wellbeing events.
What Barnardo's Scotland has learned
Partnership working: New partnerships with local organisations such as C-Fine have been established to greater meet the needs of young carers. Over the reporting period, we have gained a level of understanding regarding the importance of these partnerships in growing service delivery and offering opportunities tailored to young carers individual needs.
Developing new short break activities: This reporting period saw a change within service delivery from day breaks to longer-term residential opportunities. Although for a lower number of young carers, this has been important in pushing young carers to achieve new skills and develop their confidence. We will continue offering residential opportunities.
Project planning and budgeting: Due the current cost of living and the impact on local opportunities, there has been a need to develop more creative ways of funding and delivering opportunities. This has included partnership working, applications to various smaller funding opportunities and running group opportunities in new environments - such as in-school groups.
How Barnardo's Scotland has benefitted from the funding
Our service has benefited from the creative breaks funding significantly by being able to provide new groups and build our knowledge, skills and capacity. Our service is the only young carers service in Aberdeen City and this funding has allowed us to provide more group work and activities providing short breaks and respite to young carers, their Cared For, and their families. Without this funding, we would not have had the staffing capacity to provide the number of groups we currently run including the Saturday groups and joint groups for the cared for and young carer. It also meant that we were able to deliver a robust school holiday programme that included residential breaks for the first time. We have also worked in partnership with new organisations that have strengthened links and partnership working in our local community that included Cfine that offered cooking skills classes. The difference that the funding has been incredible and much appreciated in helping our young carers and the people they care for improve their wellbeing, have more opportunities to enjoy a life outside their caring role, and helped them to feel better supported to sustain their caring role.
120 young carers will be feeling less isolated and enjoying increased positive socialisation with peers as a result of having access to social groups and activities.
179 young carers had more opportunities and a wide range of activities to enjoy a life outside of their caring role. The aim being to give young carers a break and reduce the impact of their caring role whilst also reducing social isolation. We delivered school holiday programmes with weekly social groups and planned activities. During term time, monthly Saturday groups for Primary age and S1-3 age young carers, S4+ groups on a fortnightly basis, LGBT+ groups once a month and weekly adults group for adult carers and cared for. These groups offered opportunities for respite, meet other young carers for peer support, and making new friends. Based on evidence from 3 monthly review of individual outcomes, evaluations of social groups, feedback loop from young carers, cared for, family members, and other professionals, we developed our group programmes. Alongside the Promise, this ensured we heard Young Carers voices within service delivery and development.
Young Carer X (YCX) is 12 years old and currently in S2 at Dyce Academy. YCX was referred to the service in July of 2021 through self-referral. YCX cares for their brother who has Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and requires emotional support, practical support, and personal care. The family recognised there was a lot of support in place for their Parents and Brother, but no support in place for YCX. To support with their own health and wellbeing whilst reducing the impact of their caring responsibilities, YCX was registered with us on a groups-only basis. Since referral, YCX has been actively involved with our group opportunities and engaged well with others in the groups. YCX has also received support through attending residential opportunities. YCX showed team working skills, ability to motivate others and resilience whilst on the trip; they shared their favourite activity from the Outward Bounds trip was “the crate climb and the leap of faith”. Contact is kept with the family on regular basis through phone calls and home visits to monitor the impact of their Brother’s ASD on YCX – whilst also monitoring the level of support required by YCX to ensure improvement in their health and wellbeing through engagement with the service. The family are also offered signposting support to organisations who can support them further – such as Quarriers Adult Carers Service – and regular financial support opportunities. YCX’s initial outcomes on the 28th of September 2021: Improved Mental Health and Wellbeing = 4 Reduced Impact of Caring = 4 Increased Choice of Activities / Opportunities = 4 YC2’s current outcomes (as reviewed in September 2023): Improved Mental Health and Wellbeing = 2 Reduced Impact of Caring = 3 Increased Choice of Activities / Opportunities = 1 Through ongoing support from the Young Carers Service, there has been a substantial improvement in the Young Carers mental health and wellbeing as well as choice of activities/ opportunities. However, due to the complexities of the home environment and growing needs of their Brother, there has been little improvement in YCX’s outcome to reduce the impact of caring.
120 young carers will report feeling less anxious with an increased sense of their wellbeing and how to maintain it.
We delivered holiday programmes and residentials which were found to be a great opportunity for young carers to share some of the issues that affect them with young people who understand. A variety of activities and residentials were planned to ensure all young carers - no matter what their circumstances - received a break from caring. Young Carers were offered therapeutic groups which included our partnership with ELM Music Therapy which is a person-centred approach to therapy. Delivery of these groups ensured young carers have an positive outlet which encourages them to express their emotions in a creative way - thus, improving their mental health and wellbeing whilst allowing them to continue in their caring role.
Young Carer Y (YCY) was self-referred to our service by Mum in April 2022 to receive support on a group only basis. YCY is 13 years old and in 3rd year of academy at Oldmachar. She lives at home with her Mum who is the cared for and elder Brother who is also a Young Carer. Both YCY and her Brother care for their Mum due to her physical health Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), Fibromyalgia and Ankylosing Spondylitis and poor mental health. She supports her Mum to undertake everyday household responsibilities, offers mobility support and provides emotional support; especially when experiencing a “flare up” of her conditions. Mum’s health has had an impact on YCY social opportunities as well as her own mental health and wellbeing. From referral up to December 2022, there had been very little engagement in the group opportunities by YCY due to her social anxiety, and lack of peer connections within the service. Upon request from Education, we offered YCY an opportunity to review her Young Carers Statement in a visit with the project worker – which also provided an opportunity to identify supports available to encourage her group engagement. She then built a relationship with the project worker and through an existing friendship with another Young Carer, her group engagement commenced. Since January 2023, YCY has engaged with 34 group opportunities alongside the Outward Bounds and Scottish Young Carers residentials. It was discussed with Mum that YCY would be put on the waiting list for a befriender allocation to support with her emotional wellbeing and reduce the concern of social isolation. Within these opportunities, she has developed positive peer relationships, found confidence within herself, and fully engaged in the opportunities offered. Additionally, there has been a positive impact on her ability to meet her allocated outcomes: YCY’s initial outcomes on the 15th of January 2022: Improved Mental Health and Wellbeing = 4 Reduced Impact of Caring = 4 Increased Choice of Activities/ Opportunities = 4 YCY’s current outcomes (as reviewed in September 2023): Improved Mental Health and Wellbeing = 3 Reduced Impact of Caring = 2 Increased Choice of Activities/ Opportunities = 2
Young carers and cared for will report an increase in sense of personal wellbeing and enhanced connection as a result of attending joint activities
A number of family social opportunities were offered during the duration of the funding - including family fun days over summer, cinema visits for both young carer and cared for, and family friendly events for celebration of carers week. The out with term time activities, residential trips, and outings with the whole family emphasized the importance of parent/ child relationships and offered positive memories for young carers to have new experiences, learn new skills and be involved in how our service is run e.g. activity choices.
Young Carer Z (YCZ) is an 18-year-old who currently studies at North East Scotland College. YCZ was referred to the Young Carers Service in August of 2020 by education professionals to receive 1-1 support, group opportunities, signposting and financial support. They were also referred for support with access to further education opportunities. YCZ is a Young Carer for their mother who has a diagnosis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E). They have substantial caring role, offering emotional support, accompanies their mother to shopping, personal care, and helps with household activities. Since the referral was received, YCZ has received significant 1-1 support and additionally offered social opportunities through our ELM Music Therapy Group, S4+ group, LGBT+ groups and other Young Carer activities. This includes attendance at family activities including Carers Week events and Pantomime trips. YCZ’s Mother also had regular involvement with the Adult’s Support Groups, and this has encouraged her to be more independent in accessing her own support opportunities. They accessed the Young Carers Grant and other financial opportunities to allow them to have a life alongside caring. Over the next couple of months, we focus on the transition from Children’s services to Adult service’s for both YCZ and the family as a whole. We will also support both YCZ and their mother during this time to ensure the impact of change is reduced. YC3’s initial outcomes on the 1st of September 2020: Improved Mental Health and Wellbeing = 3 Reduced Impact of Caring = 4 Positive Socialisation with Peers = 4 Increased Choice of Activities / Opportunities = 4 YC3’s current outcomes (as reviewed in November 2023): Access to Support Services = 3 Improved Mental Health and Wellbeing = 1 Reduced Impact of Caring = 2 Positive Socialisation with Peers = 0 Increased Choice of Activities / Opportunities = 0. Although YC3’s outcomes have fluctuated during the time they have been registered with the service, there has been a considerable long-term change to all their outcomes – having met the need to increase positive socialisation with peers and choice of activities/ opportunities.