Barnardos Thrive Young Carer’s Group
A story by Barnardos Nurture Service Inverclyde Thrive Services
We provided two social groups for Young Carers (8-13 yrs & 13-16 yrs) living in Inverclyde. The groups provided Young Carer’s with regular respite time away from their caring responsibilities, opportunities to take part in various activities, and to develop peer relationships with other Young Carers.
What Barnardos Thrive Young Carer’s Group did
We continue to work in partnership with Inverclyde HSCP's Young Carers worker. This partnership proved successful in generating suitable referrals and increased our knowledge of the needs of young carers. The member of staff provided ' in kind' support. The HSCP partnership guides us in relation to Inverclyde's Carers & Young Carer Strategy 2017 - 2022, developed in recognition of the role and contribution carers make. We receive referrals through the Young Carer's worker,local schools, external agencies and Barnardos wider services in Inverclyde.
The service provided 40 weeks of young carer's groups, group 1 @ 8-13 years & group 2 @13-16 years delivered on alternate weeks. Groups are led by the young people, we have regular consultations to ensure that we are providing activities that are worthwhile and make a difference to the young person’s life and support needs.
Some of these were, Pantomime/Theatre trips, Young Carers Festival 3 day camping trip, arts and crafts, drama workshops, cooking classes /Eat Better Feel Better, Funworld (Soft Play). Laser Tag, camping, Complimentary Therapies Workshop, social Group, gaming night, sports night, pool, murder mystery night. Music workshop, Discos, Mental Health awareness workshops /careers advice, Political Speed Dating, tree climbing workshops, talent show. Cinema, Alcohol and Drugs Awareness Workshop, careers advisers, Elev8 (trampoline Park), summer activities/football/picnics, Morton in the Community (local Football), SAMH mental health talks and Sexual Health Advice.
Many of the above activities/trips were facilitated by West College Scotland, Beacon Arts, Drug and Alcohol Team and other local agencies/resources who through our extensive partnerships provided free specialist services. This meant that the young carer's could access a wider range of activities that they would not be able to access ordinarily due to financial challenges and social isolation as a result of their caring role.
What Barnardos Nurture Service Inverclyde Thrive Services has learned
This project has enhanced our portfolio of support services to reach vulnerable young people who did not have access to support that meets their unique needs. The project has provided insight to the wider needs of their families and enabled us to address a range of family adversity through our wider service delivery. This provides added benefits for the young carers as a reduction in stress within the family home has a positive impact on their overall well-being.
Working in partnership with the range of services and agencies within the local authority enabled the young carers to access interventions that were provided by specialist services in areas such as poor mental health.
The information requested on the reporting template for the project has led to the development of data base systems within the service. This provides easily obtainable statistical data that can be shared with partners about young carers and those they care for.
How Barnardos Nurture Service Inverclyde Thrive Services has benefitted from the funding
The work of the project has been recognised by the local authority; this has strengthened our reputation and has led to discussion about working in partnership to address the needs of young carers. This assisted us to secure funding from the local authority to meet the shortfall of our recent funding award from Creative Breaks that will enable us to meet our original targets and outcomes of our 2019/2020 bid. In addition we have received recognition from Community Learning and Development who recently invited us to nominate 3 young careers for “Young Carer of The Year Award”
Young Carers and the people they care for will have increased confidence and a reduction in stress.
We achieved this outcome by focusing on adolescent mental health. We worked alongside a range of partners to assist the young carers to gain more insight into well being issues and strategies and services that promote well being.
Jan 13 years cares for her mother who experiences poor mental health. Jan’s mum has severe mood swings and Jan provides daily emotional and practical support which can affect Jan’s well-being due to the impact of caring. In the beginning Jan told us she experiences anxiety and struggles during school holidays when she is with her mum all day and doesn’t get a rest from her caring role or the home environment. Jan started with our junior group, she presented as quiet natured and anxious, evidenced by her body language and general demeanour. Jan enjoyed artistic activities and trips. Observing Jan at group we noted that she formed friendships and grew in confidence speaking to the other young people about her caring role and finding common ground about these challenges. This year the group focused on adolescent mental health awareness. Special mental health awareness nights were hosted in a local hall and included other agencies offering information and advice in relation to mental health symptoms. Jan engaged with SAMH staff and physical education professionals. Following this Jan offered ideas for group activities such as mental health, social media, self-care and acceptance. Jan became confident enough to talk privately with group staff about her own mental health experiences and her struggles within her caring role. Jan advised that she was relieved to be able to talk about these issues in a safe zone. Jan expressed a wish to advocate for others similar issues. When younger people joined our group, Jan took on a mentoring role and showed a natural skill in this. She spoke openly and honestly with younger carers, and shared her experiences. This was lovely to watch as the younger people appeared relaxed discussing similar feelings with an older peer. Jan accessed the LIAM anxiety management program that is informed by cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). One of our Barnardo's practitioners who is trained in this approach supported Jan to use strategies to help with anxious thoughts and increase her self-awareness of the tools that help her to self-regulate when she experiences anxiety symptoms. Jan is interested in helping others and is now accessing information from us on how to volunteer when she is 16. Barnardo’s nominated 3 Young Carers including Jan for this year’s “Young Carer of The Year Award”. This award provides young people with much deserved recognition for their roles and the contributions they make to the community. Jan’s mum provided feedback on the positive impact of the group. “Because Jan enjoys the group so much, I can relax knowing that she will be happy there and has something to look forward to. It can be hard for Jan as we are together constantly and this can be intense." "Due to attending the group’s workshops she has more self-care strategies and she knows how to de-stress. She rarely tells me how she is feeling. She has good relationships with workers at group and can to chat to them about what’s on her mind. This makes a big difference to Jan’s own mental health." "I want her to have a proper experience as a young person to mess about with pals, she often thinks she needs to be here all the time and I like her having a balance to have time out and focus on her-self. The group provides that for her in a structured way because she gets picked up on the bus and has that time slotted in so knows she will always have time to de-stress away from me and do fun activities.”
Young carers will have increased opportunities to access a regular short break with other young carers and experience a range of activities/outings.
This outcome was achieved by the provision of 40 group sessions for young carers that enabled them to access a range of activities and events.
As detailed in case studies one and three.
Young carers will have improved relationships with their family and siblings; staff, and other young carers.
Through observation, discussion and feedback it is evident that the regular breaks away from the caring role and the support of peer relationships and professionals provides the young carers with the respite they require in order to sustain their demanding caring role. See case study 3
Diana is a 15 year old young carer who has a caring role for her younger sister who has a chronic lifelong condition and has undergone lifesaving surgery frequently, this requires a high level of care daily from the whole family. Diane often experiences social isolation due to her caring role, she feels that she cannot leave her sister and family alone for long periods due to the high level of support they can often require. Since joining the young carers group Diane has had a chance to have time away from her often chaotic home environment and has been able to connect with other young carers who understand her role and the complexities and challenges that come along with it. Before Diane attended the group she had very little opportunities to engage in social events and outings she would often stay home and told us at the beginning during the care planning process that she didn’t go out as she worried for her sister’s well-being and she didn’t have any friends who understood her caring role and what it entailed. This resulted in Diane passing up opportunities with her peers at school and shying away from socialising. It was evident that Diane enjoyed the group and was always ready waiting at the window for the group transport bus and was always willing and eager to take part in new activities. In accordance with the carer’s strategy which states that “a young carer should be seen as a young person first and foremost,” Diane has been able to engage in activities of her choosing, as the young carers group is young person led. Diane and the other young people have taken part in many workshops that not only help sustain their caring roles by focusing on transferable skills such as cooking and baking but also in therapeutic and fun activities like, arts and crafts, trips to the cinema and out to dinner as a group. This has resulted in Diane making many like-minded positive connections that she now engages with outside of group. This means that Diane now visits neighbouring peers that she has met through group providing her with further respite opportunity and much needed social interaction. Diane’s mum told us “Diane helps in all areas of personal care and helps gets her sister ready and organised to go out to appointments and for bed and during mealtimes and helps to get things together for her treatments at home. It can be quite intense at times. Diane often Experiences anxiety about her sister’s health and worries about her and having the group takes her mind off everything that is going with her sister’s medical condition. I feel that having the group has strengthened her and her sisters relationship by having time away from each other, it has given her some independence from us as parents and her caring duties and she has become her own person and has more of a self-identity it gives her a chance to be a normal 15 year old without the stresses of caring. We have had to cancel many days out due to her sister’s ill health, I like to know that she has something to look forward to when we have been unable to provide family activities. Being part of the group has helped us to accessing supports specifically for young carer’s we have been signposted to places like CAMHS to access counselling for Diane to help with her mental health and well-being we wouldn’t have known about this otherwise.”