PKAVS Young Carers Service
A story by PKAVS Young Carers Service
We support Young Carers aged between 5 and 16 years old. We have created an Outreach group in Blairgowrie which allows the Young Carers in this rural area to easily to attend a respite group that provides support with their caring role.
We have also been developing a Nurture Programme focused on personal outcomes.
What PKAVS Young Carers Service did
The past year has been both challenging and rewarding as awareness of our service has increased and we have received a very high amount of referrals (culminating in 116 referrals being received from a variety of different sources during the period of this funding). This is fantastic as it means more young carers are being identified and offered support although it does lead to operational challenges for the service.
The increased number of Young Carers being identified has lead to a significant increase in numbers at our respite groups. Within the past year we developed our Outreach Group and also had to split the group, creating a primary and a secondary school group. These outreach groups have proved very popular, they run biweekly and are well attended. The outreach group has also offered day trips in the school holidays and also its own rural residential.
The other operational issue faced by the service this year has been staff on maternity leave since January 2015. We were unable to fill this post at a time when demand has been increasing resulting in added workload for the team therefore the Nurture Group hasn't reached where we wanted it to be by this point.
We have provided a variety of different activities and aim to create a balance between creative activities and physical and mental challenges. Some of these activities have included swimming, outdoor games, dance and drama workshops, exploring local environments, street art workshops and even a forensic investigation experience.
Our respite groups, residentials and day trips are offered to all young carers on RED and AMBER level of support. We initially had problems with our venue for the Nurture Group, it was not suitable and did not create a nurturing environment. We have since created our own room to use for these sessions.
Abby's father no longer lives at home and Abby tries to support her mum as much as she can. Abby and mum take it in turns to sleep at night as Mum also works during the day. Abby often goes to school feeling very tired and has often not completed the required homework. Sometimes things just get too much for Abby and she really struggles physically and emotionally.
Abby regularly attends the Young Carers Groups and enjoys the different activities that we do there. Abby also enjoys spending time with others who understand her situation. Abby also receives regular one to one support from the young carers service. Abby enjoyed a weeks respite in the Summer holidays with the young carers, she felt that she really benefited from this week away and enjoyed getting to do things that 'normal' teenagers do.
The family live in a very remote location with no neighbouring properties in a close proximity. Because of mums physical limitations they do not get the opportunity to attend extracurricular activities or to have friends over to the house. Their Dad works very long hours and all the children support one another from early in the morning until bedtime.
Mum often feels very lethargic and unwell, Alex and his siblings find this very difficult to understand. They often question why Mum cannot do things that other parents do, or why she struggles to pick them up or cuddle them when they are sad.
Alex and his siblings always attend our Young Carers Groups and really enjoy the opportunity to act like young children and not have to worry about their caring role that evening. They also enjoy the days out that we offer in the school holidays, often the three siblings come out together to participate in activities. Alex recently attended our rural residential, he had a great week pony trekking, playing at the beach and also trying out a speed boat.
Alice has to help take care of her six year old brother as Mum is physically unable to help with his care. The family are having to deal with Dad being in prison and the fear of his release. The family have moved miles from where they lived and have changed their names and are trying to remain hidden from other family members. We have been able to provide support for Alice at both the respite groups and also through one to one work. This has been a great help to Alice and her confidence has really started to improve.
Mum has also really valued the support and will often call the Young Carers Service and let us know if she thinks that Alice is struggling and requires some additional support
What PKAVS Young Carers Service has learnedThe first learning we have taken is the benefit of delivering outreach groups. This means that with less travel involved more young carers are able to attend the groups as they are more easily accessible. It also allows staff the chance to deliver activities in the young carers local community and encourage to continue these activities away from the young carers group. Being locally based also allows the staff to build relationships with service providers which should also be available to the young carers to access respite from caring even when not attending our group. Outreach groups is something that we may look to increase to other locations in the future.
The second learning is that by delivering more locality based groups it allows young carers to develop a support network within their local community that they can reach out to for support at times when the young carers service may not be available. Young carers make new friends at the outreach group that live locally.
This compares favourably to the groups we ran previously where all young carers came to Perth. This could mean that a friendship was formed that could be a strong support for the young carers involved but potentially they would only see each other once a fortnight if that.
The third learning that we have made is the importance of partners working together both now and in the future. Through contacts made at the local authority we now have priority for booking the rooms where we deliver the outreach group. This is very important as space can be at a premium to deliver groups, especially during the middle of the week, and so this is one less issue for us to worry about.
The outreach group is the same as the other groups PKAVS delivers in that we are keen to involve partner agencies to help us deliver the respite and support young carers need.