Broomhouse Young Carers
A story by SPACE AND BROOMHOUSE HUB
Providing support for young carers and young adult carers aged 5-25yrs across South West Edinburgh. We provide short breaks through one to one support, weekly groups and residential opportunities helping young carers improve their own health and wellbeing and be more able to cope as a young carer.
What Broomhouse Young Carers did
At the start of our grant we provided weekly support groups for young carers over 4 evenings a week across the age range of 7 years to 25 years. The sessions were designed by our young carers to meet their needs and incorporated a range of fun, educational and issue based sessions. Our sessions included healthy eating and cooking, sleep workshops, budgeting, arts and crafts, online safety, den building, swimming and many more.
In February 2020 we went on a residential with 12 young carers up to Glencoe for a short break away from the home environment, this provided young carers who participated with a weekend of fun confidence building activities such as rock scrambling, scavenger hunt and hillwalking. In March, due to the coronavirus pandemic we had to suspend all face to face contact with our staff, volunteers and families in order to reduce risk of spreading the virus. Therefore we had to change the way we supported our young carers and their families.
Our young carers workers divided up our weekly group participants and offered one to one telephone and video support on a weekly basis keeping consistency in their support and routine. We also offered group support through zoom across all our groups and incorporated a range of activities in these discussions such as quizzes, arts, cooking and crafts. We developed a new procedure to complement our existing social media policy outlining clear guidelines on how we use ‘zoom’ as a platform for groups. In order to give additional protection to our young people we developed a digital group agreement to reduce risks associated with groups online.
We worked with activity providers and small business to offer interactive sessions such as dance and yoga. We provided 101 young carers with support throughout lockdown and through out the phased return out of lockdown and adapted when we were able to do so safely. In August we commenced outdoors face to face sessions using Bridge 8 as an outdoor education provider creating safe short breaks away from the home environment that was safe and accessible. We provided additional support for families requiring access to digital devices in the home.
What SPACE AND BROOMHOUSE HUB has learned
Partnership working for us is key to learning, improving the support on offer and creating new opportunities for all young carers and young adult carers.
We have been working closely with both statutory and third sector organisations to get the right support in place at the right time for our young carers and their families.
We have learned that we can now use digital resources and throughout this experience of responding to a global pandemic for some of the most in need families we work with, it has equipped us now with a contingency plan that has meant we are now more informed on how we can and will respond to another lockdown situation. For some, digital support is the preferred form of engaging with us as an organisation therefore we will be keeping this in place as an additional support which enhances what we originally offered.
How SPACE AND BROOMHOUSE HUB has benefitted from the funding
This funding has allowed us to expand our services and also given us the flexibility to change and shape the way we run our project in relation to responding to young carers needs during the coronavirus pandemic.
100 young carers including 30 additional young carers aged between 7 and 18 years and their families will have accessed support from our young carers service. Young carers will report feeling more positive, more resilient and more aware of the importance of looking after their own needs.
We provided young carers with support throughout lockdown and through out the phased return out of lockdown. The support we offered was a blend of one to one telephone support with an allocated worker at the same day and time each week. This provided consistency in the support we offered as well as a sense of routine and allowed a trusting relationship to develop between allocated member of staff and the young carer. This trusting relationship meant that workers could respond quickly to emerging needs of individual children and their families as young carers felt able to communicate this with their allocated worker having spoken to them on a regular basis. We provided group opportunities through online platforms such as zoom and the one to one tailored support also incorporated confidence building in some of our young carers to feel better able to cope on an online chat room discussion. The group chats meant that young carers could still feel connected to a wider social network.
Abby (13) was referred to Young Carers by social work due to the need for additional one to one support required for Abby during the lockdown period. The referral was actioned by our Young Carers worker and contact was made with the family by phone in the first instance. The young carers worker spoke with her dad initially and he consented to the worker supporting his daughter as a young carer. Dad disclosed he suffered from FAPS which is a painful abdominal condition which is managed by a care plan through the RIE, and he engages through a pain management programme. At the time of the referral dad had been in and out the hospital and administering himself doses of morphine which helps his condition when he has a ‘flare up’, he returns home and goes back to his own prescribed medication, but also uses Medicinal cannabis to manage his pain. Dad also has a diagnosis of Schizophrenia which is also managed through medication. Dad is a single parent to Abby. He described how Abby could do with additional support from another adult that wasn’t him as things were tough especially in lockdown. Dad was very anxious and was very worried about Coronavirus to the point where he was afraid to leave the house to go to the shops. His immune system is poor because of his FAPS condition and he will be a ‘high risk patient’ if he catches the virus, he wanted to keep him and his daughter safe at all times. Therefore the support provided by Space for Young Carers team was as follows: Our Young Carers worker was in weekly contact with Abby at a set time each week to create consistency and routine. This provided a listening ear and someone being a sounding board but also someone for Abby to build a trusting relationship with that could develop into the future for her throughout the difficult times. Discussion and support was given around engaging in education through online learning, someone to listen when things were feeling tough and new ideas around building in healthy routines in the house to reduce boredom and feelings of isolation such as bedtime routine, mealtimes, fresh air outdoors in the garden etc. Hot food was delivered to the family home through a volunteer daily Monday - Friday. They really enjoyed the food which helped massively with the schools being closed. Dad and Abby struggled to leave the house and get out for food due to ill health and capability. Space Youth & Families Team also supplied Abby with Easter Eggs, Art & Fun activity packs, toiletries and £30 worth of new clothes over the months of support. Emotional support was vital and provided weekly as a one to one with Abby via telephone. The support given was a huge benefit both financially and emotionally to the family and when dad wasn’t having a good day he knew that his daughter was always receiving a hot and filling meal. Abby described the support she received as the one thing she looked forward to in the week during this difficult time.
100 young carers including 30 additional young carers aged between 7 and 18 years will have accessed support from our Young Carers service and take part in a range of new activities/opportunities
We took a group of young carers ranging in age 8-10 years away for 3 days to Glen Coe. Everyone had a fantastic time, the staff at Hebridean Pursuits/Roses project couldn’t have been more accommodating and informative, the activities were perfectly catered for the age group and individual ability while challenging them to take steps outside their comfort zone. The group took on a number of challenges; hill walking, scrambling up rocks and abseiling. This was the first time most of these young people had ever been away from home. Although they were all shy, nervous and a little apprehensive they all supported each other in various tasks or challenges and bonded well while forming new friendships. The main outcome from this residential was - building resilience and taking part in a range of new opportunities. All the young people coped well at leaving home although many were apprehensive and they built confidence and self-esteem in their personal abilities.
Tamara (age 9) was quite shy and reserved. At the initial home visit, Tamara and her mother described what life is like in one of the most deprived areas of Scotland; lack of opportunities for children to play outdoors, high rise flats that feel unsafe and struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis. When asked about her caring role, Ann expressed that she had used too much alcohol in the past when she had felt low and continues to struggle with her mental health impacting on Tamara helping mum in lots of various ways in the household. Tamara began engaging in our young carers project and enjoyed all the opportunities provided in the weekly support group. Tamara was also given the opportunity to attend a residential spending 3 days/2 nights up near Glen Coe with 11 other young people. She was able to experience a few activities she had never tried before, as well as experiencing her first night spent away from her mother with support from staff. Tamara thoroughly enjoyed the experience and returned a more confident girl having faced and overcome many new challenges some of the activities brought about. Tamara described the experience as 'best time she had ever had' and looking forward to engaging in many more opportunities on offer with the project.
An additional 30 young carers will access support to meet their needs and report they are more confident about speaking up for themselves giving them more choice and control in their lives.
Through the support we offer young carers and young adult carers we can tailor this to meet their individual needs due to the range we have on offer. We have found that we need to offer a range so we can get it right for everybody. The range of support we now offer is one to one, group support, residentials, signposting to other specialist organisations and internal practitioners ie counselling/art therapy, digital support such as telephone or video calls. We will continue to offer a range of services as this is the best way to respond to individual needs, it provides choice and gives young carers a sense of ownership in their lives and the support they choose to access.
Sally (18) a young adult carer suffered a recent loss of a sibling who she had a significant caring role for. She had been a carer for her brother and the death had been quite sudden. Sally had additional difficulties with anxiety and had been diagnosed with mild anxiety before her brother’s death. Sally attended our young adult carers support group and engaged in one to one art therapy online over a secure platform during lockdown with our counsellor. She was provided with an art kit from the organisation which made it accessible for her to make art to bring to sessions. She used the initial sessions to discuss the death of her brother. She was often upset and discussed not being allowed to cry in house about it. The only place she was able to express her feelings around the bereavement were during the one to one sessions and with friends she had met in the group. Sally began to talk more about other difficulties and shared her art. Sally discussed challenges at home such as her mum and dads mental health deteriorating. As these concerns came forward, the counsellor was able to help both with the emotional impacts of this as well as organizing practical support to help Sally. In addition to putting in place support around Sally, sessions allowed Sally to start and process how these experiences were affecting her. By reflecting on her experiences, she was able to connect how these may be contributing to her feelings of anxiety. Connecting these experiences, Sally became more patient with herself and more confident in her responses to situations. As well, sessions helped her to notice additional feelings of exhaustion, low motivation, and low mood. Discussing these feelings and some psychoeducation around symptoms of depression, Sally decided to get in touch with the GP to get further support. In addition to identifying and understanding emotions, sessions also helped Sally identify things that help her cope with difficult feelings such as making her art or doing puzzles. Furthermore, this support not only helped Sally, but also was able to identify support needed for the entire family. Additionally, the team was able to offer to her parent’s potential support they may access to cope with bereavement and other difficulties experienced. Sally said about accessing counselling and the young adult carers group support: “Counselling was great, it gave me someone to talk to. The support I have had has helped me realise things that I didn’t know before, which is a great help. I now know where to go for help and attending the groups gives me time away from my home so that when I go home I can help mum and dad better and we talk more openly about things".