‘It’s Okay not to be Okay Retreat’
A story by Edinburgh Young Carers - EYC
We provided 3 ‘Health and Well-being’ residentials for young carers ( 9-14 years) – “It’s okay to not be okay”. Delivering specialist support to help young carers learn positive and healthy coping strategies to cope with their difficult feelings and make the changes that are right for them.
What ‘It’s Okay not to be Okay Retreat’ did
We succeeded in hosting one of our residentials which took place at PGL Dalguise for 3 days and 2 nights and children between the ages of 9 and 14 attended. e have paid for the other 2 residentials and have twice booked only for them to have to be cancelled due to COVID restrictions.
We will run these residentials as soon as the rules allow us to do so as they are needed more than ever. Many young carers have found lockdown has exponentially increased their level of caring with little or no respite, no school to attend and reduced access to their friends due to the worry of contracting COVID and infecting the person they care for. Consequently, many young carers are struggling with maintaining good mental health and this could have a lasting impact on their future lives.
What Edinburgh Young Carers - EYC has learned
The partnership working with the Health Opportunities team was excellent and a good practice example of the increased benefit of specialist agencies coming together ,
The challenges of COVID -19 has been a big learning curve for everyone. However we have learned to adapt our support quickly to ensure that we could keep some level of support available to our young carers, moving from Face to Face to online/virtual support during Lockdown. The learning from this means that EYC will continue to offer blended support including continuing to offer online support.
The learning from the project has identified that our younger young carers are really struggling with social isolation, anxiety etc. We have used this learning to inform the development of our health and wellbeing support.
How Edinburgh Young Carers - EYC has benefitted from the funding
EYC has benefited as we have been able to pilot - all be it at the moment with only one residential, a combined programme of confidence building outward bound activities and specialist sessions. The combination of outward-bound youth work and the sessions delivered by HOT helped build resilience in the young carers and empowered them to cope better with their emotions which enables them to become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible, active citizens – they are already active citizens as the free care they provide contributes financially and socially to our communities. The learning from the project has identified that our younger young carers are really struggling with social isolation, anxiety etc. We have used this learning to inform the development of our health and wellbeing support.
10 young carers participated in the residential which combined outward-bound confidence building activities. They had sessions to talk about stress, its symptoms and what triggers it. They looked at strategies to recognise and cope with stress.
We have achieved the outcome for the 10 young carers who participated but due to COVID had to cancel the two other residentials planned. These are now planned for when lockdown restrictions allow.
E is a 10 year old girl who was referred to Edinburgh Young Carers by her school and at the time of the referral E had been identified by her school as having some sort of caring role at home. The school recognised E was supporting mum at home due to an operation on her knee that went wrong which has left her with a permanent disability with the prospect of a below knee amputation. E was struggling with her caring role, friendships and feeling socially isolated and felt she had no one to listen to her. It was decided that E would benefit greatly from the 'It's okay not to be okay' specialist programme focusing on young carers’ health and wellbeing. E took part in weekly 1:1 support sessions via the HOT’s team and took part in the residential at PGL. Before the 1:1 support E found it difficult to engage in groups, group discussion and isolated herself from the rest of the group. However E made amazing progress during the 1:1 sessions which aimed to achieve the following: to help young people explore reasons for any distress, to identify triggers for challenging behaviours or emotional difficulties. To suggest alternative behaviours, to identify coping strategies and to provide positive feedback to the young person. During the residential we re-visited the YP CORE questionnaires pre and post support where we saw a reduction in E’s distress levels and saw an improvement on the GIRFEC scale for the healthy, achieving, nurtured and active categories. E’s caring role remains difficult, however she feels better able to cope with it using the coping strategies learned through the 1:1 support and residential.