Christmas Activity Days and Summer Residentials
A story by Fife Young Carers
We delivered two Summer Residential Opportunities in Fife. The two residential opportunities were for young carers aged 8-12 to enjoy a three day respite break at Fordell Firs Activity Centre and for young carers aged 13-16 to enjoy a three day respite opportunity at the Homelands Trust.
What Christmas Activity Days and Summer Residentials did
We delivered two residential respite activities for young carers in Fife. We delivered a residential at the Fordell Firs Activity Centre for young carers aged 8-12 and a residential at the Homelands Trust for the older young carers, aged 13-16. These activities took place in the summer holidays 2019 as this can be a difficult time for young carers. The young carers identified to take part in the activity were those who had a high level of caring responsibility or had a caring role which had a high impact on them; emotionally, socially or educationally. These opportunities allowed for young carers to have respite from their caring role and also allowed the young carers to have a holiday, which they may not have had access too otherwise.
The residential opportunity provided at the Homelands Trust was in partnership with them. They helped to identify the best use of the facilities and the location to enable the young carers to get the most out of the opportunity. We also worked alongside Fordell Firs Activity Centre to ensure that the young carers were able to access multiple activities throughout their stay. This partnership working helped increase the opportunities available to the young carers.
The residential opportunities allowed us to support the young carers wellbeing and gave them a chance to meet other carers to develop peer support and create new friendships.
The two residential opportunities were a great success with all the young carers attending; reporting that they had a good time away and enjoyed the activities. After one of the residentials a parent texted saying - "They have had a fab weekend away with Fife Young Carers!! Can't thank the workers enough for the wonderful opportunities they give to kids all over Fife that help care for their parents, siblings and extended family".
What Fife Young Carers has learned
From delivering this project we have learnt that providing short term residential opportunities is an important aspect of the support we provide at Fife Young Carers as it encourages peer support, friendship building and allows for children and young people to be children and young people.
We have also continued to develop partnership working and we are continuing to develop our monitoring and evaluation processes.
How Fife Young Carers has benefitted from the funding
Fife Young Carers has benefited greatly from the Better Breaks funding. This funding helped us build capacity to provide summer respite opportunities to young carers in most need of this support. The funding also allowed us to develop our partnership links with other respite providers such as the Homelands Trust. This is vital as it enables us to promote the opportunities they can provide to our young carers and their families.
Young Carers will make new friends and positive memories. They will feel more relaxed having attended a residential and will be able to go back to their caring duties with a refreshed sense of purpose.
The knowledge that there are other young people in a similar situation as them encourages young carers to open up about their caring role, the impact on them and the support they feel they need. Also the knowledge that there is support available when they need it improves well-being. Accessing support that is tailored to meet the needs of young carers as children and young people also enables better well-being. They are with staff that understand and can listen as well as being with peers. They are able to access activities and respite opportunities that they can participate motivates them and gives them a greater balance in their lives. The cared-for person will also benefit as the carers well-being improves. At the Homelands residential one Young Carer commented that it was a good chance to relax and another said it was nice spending time together with other young carers.
Two young carers aged 14 and 15 from different areas of Fife who did not know any of the other young carers attended the Homelands Trust, trip started chatting and became good friends. By the end of the trip both had come out of their shell and spent a lot of time together. Staff reported that it was really encouraging to see this friendship develop throughout the activities. Emma's mum stated "I would like to thank you all for taking Emma away for the weekend. The break did her the world of good, she's got some new friends out of going away. She really enjoyed herself, thank you so much!"
Young Carers will still be in touch with new friends met during these breaks and will be keen to attend future activities and residentials.
Throughout both residential opportunities the young carers were able to join in with games and activities that allowed for team building, this in turn allowed young carers from different backgrounds to find other things in common. The activities that took place at the residential were chosen using feedback and suggestions form the young carers. This helps to encourage young carers to have active participation and engagement in activities and future events as they are designed by them for them. All the young carers who attended were asked if they had made new friends said they did and said they had tried new activities as part of these opportunities.
One young carer aged 10 attended the Fordell Firs residential opportunity. This respite break was this young persons only holiday opportunity this year. He was able to attend the activities on offer which included the G-Swing, Jacobs Ladder, a nighttime adventure walk among other activities. He commented to one of the Support Workers that he had enjoyed all of the activities and he was overcoming some of his fears. He further commented that "I wish I had been here all summer, it was brilliant". He felt he had a break from his caring role, more confident in himself, made new friends, learnt new things and tried new activities. This young person is now regularly attending our fortnightly respite and support activities as a result of this residential.
Young Carers will feel well supported by our support workers, having developed a closer bond and relationship built on trust during the trips and residentials. They will feel more comfortable turning to them for advice on how to manage their caring role, especially when facing challenges.
As an result of attending these residential opportunities the young carers have been able to develop strong relationships with the support staff in Fife Young Carers. Through building this relationship young carers have felt more comfortable in asking for advice and support in relation to their caring role and other challenges they have faced. We are continuing to monitor the impact of the residential opportunity in regard to young carers being able to continue asking for additional support. Trusting relationships built at these opportunities is key for young carers feeling confident to ask for this support. Young carers being able to access respite opportunities and having support limits the potential burnout and enable them to sustain their caring role.
Prior to the residential opportunity at Fordell Firs John had not attended many support opportunities within Fife Young Carers. He attended the residential following some persuasion by both the Support Worker and his mum. He attended the residential opportunity and although he started off shy and removed by the end of the few days he was a lively part of the group. Following on from the residential John has been at all of the fortnightly support sessions and is actively participating. He has also asked his Support Worker for additional one to one support to help him when he is worrying about his caring responsibilities whilst at school. The relationship he built with his Support Worker at the residential has enabled John to do this.