Columba 1400 Leadership Academies for Young Carers
A story by Columba 1400
We ran Columba 1400 Virtual Leadership Academies involving 20 Young Carers from East Ayrshire. Delivered online due to Covid-19, the project gave young carers the opportunity to build relationships, increase confidence, have fun with others, reflect on their values and set goals for the future.
What Columba 1400 Leadership Academies for Young Carers did
We delivered two Columba 1400 Virtual Leadership Academies involving 20 young carers from East Ayrshire between June-November 2020. These involved introductory sessions and then a series of six longer sessions where young carers focused on the 6 core Columban values and also the young people set goals for themselves such as increased confidence, improved relationships and higher aspiration levels.
This work was developed and adapted to take place on an online platform due to the Covid-19 crisis. We collaborated with our partner on the project, East Ayrshire Carers Centre, to design this work to meet the needs of the young carers. In order to achieve our shared outcomes, the young people were involved in the consultation process and also involved in how they would like sessions to be run. We incorporated their suggestion for a longer lunch break where they could enjoy connecting in a less structured way, and this proved to be a big success as the young people had fun and developed friendships during this time.
In order to respond to the Covid-19 crisis and still be able to work with young people, we needed to change how we delivered this project and we developed new sessions and resources as part of this. The aim was to achieve the expected outcomes of the project and help young people achieve the goals they had set for themselves. We also adapted to ensure we took in to consideration the impact the pandemic may have had on the young people and their lives, and caring responsibilities, during this time.
We developed sessions that allowed the young people to digest the current situation while figuring out the things that are most important to them and these were very positively received. We also had sessions designed to help the young people feel positive and hopeful for the future. This was reflected in the feedback from the participants. As part of this feedback we asked, out of 10, how much are you aware of your values and what is important to you? The result was an average of 8/10.
We also asked, out of 10, how much did this experience help you to feel positive? The result was an average score of 8.6
What Columba 1400 has learned
We have learnt that, by working digitally, we can reach some young carers who otherwise may not have wanted to participate in an in person or residential Leadership Academy.
The project has shown us that young people can still benefit greatly from a Leadership Academy delivered online, and it is likely we will continue to offer this option to partners moving forward.
We have learnt that we can develop new content to suit the current situation and ongoing restrictions. We did this with the help of young people and our project partners in a focus group format.
How Columba 1400 has benefitted from the funding
We were able to find a new way of working which allows us to work with some young people that are typically more difficult to reach. We have developed and expanded our own skills in working with online tools and software and will now continue this and offer training to our staff team to keep up to date with the latest ways of working online. The funding allowed us to deliver Virtual Leadership Academies for the first time, these have now become part of our permanent offer and has allowed us to bring in some additional funding for other groups of young people.
Young Carers will have improved emotional well-being and resilience following their Columba 1400 Leadership Academy. They will also feel less isolated and have better relationships following their Columba 1400 Leadership Academy.
The young people involved were asked the following questions after they had taken part in their Columba 1400 Leadership Academy: Out of 10, how much were you able to connect with others? The average score was – 7.5 Out of 10, how much did this experience help you to feel positive about the future? The average score was – 8.6
Participant X didn’t turn on their camera for the first 2 sessions and only participated occasionally, by using the chat function. By the 3rd session they turned on their camera and began to answer questions in small break out rooms and then in the bigger group setting. They engaged really well with the process of discovering their own values and exploring how they can use them in day to day life. They also enjoyed the concept of everyday leadership and began to see themselves as a leader. It was amazing to witness this young person grow in confidence, reflect on themselves and their leadership. This confidence was also observed during the breaks where he was building friendships with the other young carers. When reflecting on the Leadership Academy, participant X said this in their feedback; ‘It was a great experience because it helped me learn more about myself, leadership and values in general.’
Young Carers feel better prepared and more motivated to engage with other opportunities following their Columba 1400 Leadership Academy.
We asked the young people out of 10, how much are you aware of your values and what is important to you for the future? The result was an average score – 8 We also asked out of 10, how much did this experience help you to feel positive about the future? The average score was – 8.6 Due to the Covid-19 crisis, we adapted to allow some focus on the young people having the opportunity to have fun, as well as the other set outcomes, as this was highlighted as important for the young people during a particularly challenging time. Following their Leadership Academy young people were asked: Out of 10, how much did you enjoy your Virtual Leadership Academy? The average score was – 8.6 Out of 10, how welcome did you feel? Average score – 9.5 Out of 10, how much fun did you have? Average score – 9
Direct feedback from young people on this project included: I liked how the Columba 1400 Facilitators were so understanding and really positive throughout the whole experience. They were able to have a laugh with and as well as taken other things seriously when needed. I liked all the jokes and general bonding between us. Everyone seemed to adapt well to the change of doing the Leadership Academy on an online platform. I like that we have had a bit of fun while being serious at the same - it was a good mix of both The environment was very welcoming and activities were still enjoyable through a digital medium.
Following their Columba 1400 Leadership Academy, Young Carers will be more confident, allowing them to be more able to speak out and communicate
Following the Leadership Academy, one young person reflected "I liked the activities because there are ones I wouldn’t normally do. You included everyone and gave everyone a chance to talk" We asked the young people, out of 10, how much would you recommend a Columba 1400 Virtual Leadership Academy to others? and the average score was – 9
Feedback from one young person: "I certainly would recommend this experience to anyone to learn more about yourself. The Columba 1400 team's feedback to the challenges we completed was inspiring and a real confidence boost".