Broomhouse Young Carers
A story by BROOMHOUSE YOUNG CARERS
Broomhouse Young Carers project provided short breaks for young carers and young adult carers aged 7 yrs – 25 yrs old. We provided support through group work and one to one support tailored to the needs of individual young carers.
We cover the South West locality in the City of Edinburgh.
What Broomhouse Young Carers did
We provided short breaks for 20 young carers aged 13-15 years old and young adult carers aged 16-25 years old. Our groups bring young carers together, reducing feelings of isolation due to their caring role. The groups provided a range of new opportunities out with the Broomhouse Centre such as rock climbing, escape rooms, ghost tours, ice skating, going out for dinner in and around the city of Edinburgh.
We also consulted with young carers through consultation evenings and responded to the needs they identified around issues affecting their lives such as healthy eating, drug and alcohol awareness sessions, building and maintaining healthy relationships, transitioning to further education and work and budgeting. We delivered these sessions in partnership with specialist providers such as the health opportunities team and fast forward.
We were also given the opportunity to work in partnership with the Edinburgh Fringe and all the young carers were given tickets to shows and some of the performers came to the centre to engage with young carers through workshops. In addition to this Napier University gave our young people the opportunity to use the gym on campus. This has opened up new opportunities for young carers to be given free gym passes to use as and when required in their own time, promoting a sense of personal well-being through exercise and self care.
Young carers reported this opportunity supported them to build resilience as self care helps them to sustain their caring role. Our young carers support and development worker has been working closely with Napier University in their development of their young carers strategy within the University. We hope this will be used as a good example for other Universities to follow in terms of getting the support right for young adult carers in further education.
We have successfully recruited 2 new volunteers this year who have supported young carers giving the opportunity for more individual support to be given if required within the group environment. Some of our young adult carers were involved in interviewing candidates, giving them a sense of control and building confidence to make decisions.
What BROOMHOUSE YOUNG CARERS has learned
This project helps inform what young carers needs are and how best to support them. We provide a child centred approach embedded in our work as we consult with young carers and implement practice based on their feedback. We feel giving the young carers control over the sessions in our programme gives them a sense of ownership and the programme they put together with support from staff encourages widening social networks for young people.
We work in partnership with more specialist providers in certain areas such as benefit agencies, health professionals and education providers. We believe partnership working provides young carers with wider opportunities to learn new things and gain new experiences from a range of providers. Young carers build relationships with other agencies and professionals giving them a sense of wider support network.
We have learnt that through developing new short break activities such as residential short breaks creates a sense of achievement in young carers therefore building on their confidence and self esteem. We have learnt that residential opportunities should be embedded in our young carers service and each young carers should have the opportunity of a residential break at least once a year based on the personal benefits it provides for young people.
How BROOMHOUSE YOUNG CARERS has benefitted from the funding
The funding we received from The Short Breaks Fund Creative Breaks programme has enabled us to increase our capacity as a project in supporting many more young carers aged 13-25 yrs. We have been able to provide many more new opportunities and develop new partnership working with further education providers and organisations such as Napier University and Edinburgh Fringe. Through increasing our capacity and creating opportunities to work with a range of partners this has strengthened our reputation within the South West locality of Edinburgh in terms of young carers support.
20 Young Carers and 20 Young Adult Carers will experience reduced isolation.
This outcome was fully achieved as all the young carers who attended our groups reported a reduction in feelings of isolation as they now attend a group with others in similar situations to their own. All the young carers felt they now have a safe space where they can attend and be a young person for a short space of time in their week. The young carers reported they felt well listened to from staff and volunteers and their views mattered. 80% reported to have made friendships through attending the groups and felt able to maintain these friendships as they have a common understanding of each others circumstances and no judgements are made.
Tracy joined the project at the age of Thirteen. She was referred to Broomhouse Young Carers as there were concerns about her role as a young carer arising from parental substance misuse and mental well-being. She was referred to us because she did not make friends easily and she worried a lot about her Mum who experienced chaotic drug use and didn’t live at home. The referrer felt that a small, friendly group would build up her self-esteem, help her to make friends and help her to share worries about the home life she had. She quickly adapted to the group and began to make friends. After completing an initial assessment with Teresa, we found that she was expected to take on a substantial amount of caring for her Dad and at times her Mum if she came to the house. She felt that caring affected her a lot, but not always in a negative way, she felt that because of caring she was doing something good, being useful, learning useful skills and feeling good about helping. However, she told us that she sometimes felt lonely, sad and was often late for or missed school because she was tired from all the things she had to do. Through attending our group and engaging with our one to one worker in school, Teresa has made great progress and never misses a week of the group. She has a solid group of friends who support each other. Our staff have been able to support her and helped her access support to get new clothes and shoes. She has also attended our summer programme and came on residential in April. Before young carers she fed back to staff that she felt lonely, shy and frustrated. After joining, she said she felt happy, confident and ecstatic!
20 Young Carers and 20 Young adult carers will have improved resilience.
We have successfully achieved this outcome as young carers and young adult carers reported this during a 6 monthly evaluation session. Increased resilience was reported in a range of ways. Some reported they felt better able to cope with their caring role as they were part of a wider social network of friends with a common understanding, making it easy to offload worries and relate to each other. Others felt the opportunities they gained through accessing the group meant they changed their perspective from feelings of 'this is what life will always be like' to 'I can still be me, a young person with hopes and dreams that are achievable'. The majority reported that having a safe place and a sense of belonging to a project meant they could sustain their caring role better as they knew support was always available when required through our project from our one to one worker and group project and sessional workers.
Seventeen year old Rebekah has been using the Broomhouse Young Carers Service for a number of years. Rebekah cares for her mother and young siblings as her mother has physical difficulties and depression. Rebekah used to miss out on seeing friends and going out because she was so busy at home and also had had lots of her own issues. She describes these issues as, scared, angry, lost, nobody to speak to, alone frightened a total mess. "I was a very angry person and I did not know what to do. I did not know where to start who I was, I bottled things up all my life!" “You don’t really realise you’re missing out on anything because it’s just what you’re used to. I would come home from school, do my homework so by the time all that was done, the night was over and it was time for bed” Broomhouse Young Carers helped her to enjoy her childhood through taking part in many different activities and events. "That’s one of the great things about the project, we get to go to all these different places and do so many different activities which I’ve never done before and wouldn’t have had the chance to do without them." The support provided has built resilience in Rebekah as it has helped her develop another life other than the one she has at home. The support from Broomhouse has meant that Rebekah has more confidence because she has had lots of new experiences and knows there is always someone to talk to if she needs advice: This has included 1-1 support and some life coaching with the support worker. Rebekah now shares the differences it has made, "I feel happy and proud of how far I have come, I feel and look healthier and I am better than I used to be. I open up to more people and have more control over my anger and feel wiser, more understanding about my feelings and emotions and know more about my boundaries. I have more strength to cope and I have courage to carry on. I have taken the leap in faith in myself and not surrounding myself with negative people." “My confidence has shot through the roof it’s also wonderful to know you have someone to turn to. If I ever need support or need to talk to the session workers about anything I know they’ll be there. I know for once I can actually say without being negative, I am proud of myself and what I have achieved in the last year especially. I have grown from a teenager with negative vibes to a positive woman who can show people you can achieve your dreams and goals. I still care for Mum but I can be my own person as well. If it was not for Broomhouse Young Carers and my support worker I would not have got this far.
20 Young Carers and 20 Young adult carers will have improved self esteem.
This outcome was fully achieved through young carers and young adult carers reporting an increase in their self esteem and confidence during our evaluation sessions. Young carers reported they had increased in confidence through the new experiences they had when attending group activities. The residential experiences were reported to be the biggest challenge for some of our young carers as initially there were feelings of anxiety around a range of things such as leaving home, sharing a bedroom with others and being faced with challenging activities. However on completion of the week all our young carers reported a significant improvement in their confidence and self esteem. All of them felt they could leave home again, they all left with a sense of pride as each and everyone of them successfully achieved a goal which they set personally on arrival such as jumping of an edge of a Loch into freezing waters and there were no issues in terms of sharing sleeping areas.
Haley was referred to us in January 2018 due to her mum’s Alcohol misuse and depression, she is a young carer being the eldest of three children she had a lot of worries and responsibilities within the household being responsible for looking after her two younger sister’s aged five and three, she was not engaging in a full time table at school due to continued absence which had resulted in her losing touch with her peers and was being bulled at school. It had also been recorded that there was a history of domestic violence between her mum and step dad resulting in him moving out of the family home. Hayley was very socially isolated and was in desperate need of someone she could confide in and talk through any issues or worries in a safe environment. At the initial meeting with Hayley it was discussed what she would like to gain from having a one to one worker. It was agreed that she would work on her emotional self-worth, how to express feelings, coping skills, improved relationships with peers, develop hobbies and become more involved in local activities. Hayley started to engage in May 2018 with her worker, six weeks later an opportunity became available and she was invited to a five day residential in the Scottish Highlands with other young people receiving support. Hayley was extremely anxious about attending and right up until the last minute almost dropped out. The residential course is designed to challenge young people, encourage them to meet new people, learn to communicate and work together as a team, setting them different challenges and targets, and encouraging them to try things that are new to them. Over the course of the week the change in Hayley was not only visible but mentally she become more and more confident, she didn’t stand at the back of the group trying to be invisible she engaged in every activity, she made friends with everyone in the group and became a valued popular member of the group, on their return the group had prepared a presentation of their experience to present to the Funders which Hayley took a leading role in presenting it, something she would never have had the confidence to do a few weeks previous. Over the course of the next few months Hayley began attending the group on a weekly basis reporting back how much she appreciated having somewhere to escape to when her home life was very up and down and the one consistent thing in her life was the group. She commented on how much she appreciated being able to talk freely about her mum, her family life and how she was feeling in general without feeling she was being judged. Hayley also attended many group activities where she would interact with peers from the residential but also other young people being supported.