Renfrewshire Young Carers Project
A story by No Strings Attached (Scotland)
We provided weekly evening classes in woodwind music tuition and asthma management for Young Carers with Asthma living in Renfrewshire.
We offered opportunities for Young Carers with Asthma to manage their Asthma, pursue self development opportunities and overcome the isolation, whilst providing respite from their caring situation.
What Renfrewshire Young Carers Project did
Our project continued over the period since the Mid-term report with a break for the summer in July and part of August 2018 with a similar number of Young Carers as previously reported (5 / 6) attending on a Wednesday evening at Paisley Grammar School on a regular basis for both music tuition and asthma management education.
We were lucky to have the services of two music teachers with considerable experience of teaching music to children, including groups of children with special issues, and they continue to be a successful with positive feedback from the Young Carers. Unfortunately one of them was unable to continue for personal reasons after the 2018 summer break.
Our asthma nurse has experience of reaching out to difficult to reach groups of young people with asthma, and who in collaboration with the Young Carers, continued to use an informal game centered asthma educational approach to establish a professional but friendly relationship with the Young Carers.
Both our music teacher(s) and asthma nurse work hand-in hand and have developed more bespoke asthma management and music tuition sessions for individual Young Carers as well as more group work covering the joint emphases of our project in terms of asthma management and music education.
In terms of developing a Digital Project we successfully hard launched our new website with the assistance of Ross McCulloch, Director of Third Sector Lab and his colleague Peter Jahn. It is still early days to measure the overall success of the website and the Digital Portal allowing member Young Carers to access our music teachers and asthma management information. However early signs are that it has been well received.
What No Strings Attached (Scotland) has learned
Increasingly Young Carers do not want to be part of a specialised ‘Young Carers’ Project but want to be integrated into work alongside other Young People with asthma, but who are not Young Carers. They want to feel part of ‘the community’ at large.
The Project has reinforced the view, there is no lack of potential for our charity to grow. The challenge is for us to develop capacity.
Further to the previous point we have instigated a Strategic Review led by a new Trustee who was formerly a senior management in a large 3rd sector body. An interim report has been submitted and will be reviewed by the Board over the coming months.
How No Strings Attached (Scotland) has benefitted from the funding
Without the Creative Breaks funding we would not have been able to hire specialised music teachers with knowledge and experience in working with Young People from disadvantaged backgrounds. In short the funding was crucial to the operation and success of the project, for which we are grateful.
Young Carers will be able to demonstrate an identifiable and measurable improvement in their asthma, asthma knowledge and asthma management skills.
Our asthma nurse undertook baseline evaluations of the Young Carers in August 2018, and noted that most of the Young Carers fall into the mild to moderate asthma range. Peak Flow (PF) readings vary between individuals and over time. However, feedback suggests the PF level improvements of our 'long termers' has been maintained whilst none our Young Carers has regressed. Absences from school, solely due to asthma, has fallen to negligible levels, which suggests many of our Young Carers are no more likely to be absent from school due to ill health than non-asthma sufferers. More specific results indicated, a sustained 5 to 6% improvement in Average Peak Flow Readings, measurable reductions in sleepless nights from say 3 to 4 sleepless night per week down to 0-2 sleepless nights a week. At least a 30% uplift in the number of Young Carers using asthma management plans effectively. Fewer absences from school due to asthma, ranging from 0 absences to say a 50% reduction in absences.
One Young Carer in particular has, according to our asthma nurse, improved greatly in terms of their health, and has been able to reduce their asthma medication via their GP. This same young person is enjoying playing their musical instrument and has taken the instrument into school and played a solo part. Their cared for adult was amazed when the Young Carer informed them that they had put their name forward for a talent show at the school. The cared for adult was amazed at this young person who attends a primary school having the confidence to do something like this and the cared for adult said it has been due to our project.
Give Young Carers an opportunity to learn a music instrument which they might not otherwise be offered, and to find pleasure and joy in playing a music instrument both individually and as part of a group, this in turn improving their health and well being.
Our music teacher(s) have also made an initial assessment of the music ability of each Young Carer and their abilities range from absolute beginner to accomplished young musician (Grade 6/7). Two of our Young Carers are particularly talented, and can play music to a very good standard. Two others previously joined school orchestras after learning music and participating in our project, having been denied this before. Others continue to make regular progress despite not always practising as they should. However, this is not always their fault as they often must prioritise their caring duties, and on occasion, are unwell themselves. From a sporting aspect most of our Young Carers now participate in sport at school to varying degrees, whereas before they did not, or at least not to the same extent..
Two Young Carers have particularly enjoyed being part of the project, and it allows them to relax more than they ever did before. The cared for adults noted their children are a lot happier and their asthma is less of a problem. The aforementioned Young Carers are now members of a youth orchestra and their cared for adults are convinced the Young people have benefited from the project both in health terms and in music progression outside their caring duties. One the Young Carers was disappointed they did not win a music contest they entered but this does not seem to have put them off for entering more competitions.
Young Carers will be able to actively manage their asthma within the framework of an asthma support group and be empowered to better sustain improved health and wellbeing, thus minimising the adverse impact their asthma has on the caring role.
Young Carers will be able to actively manage their asthma within the framework of an asthma support group and be empowered to better sustain improved health and wellbeing, thus minimising the adverse impact their asthma has on the caring role
A Young Carer, who has been with our project from the start has come on leaps and bounds. This Young Carer has done remarkably well at school with all their studies and seems to be able to juggle school work with their caring role. The Young Carer comes to the project complete with homework and attends the project more or less every week. This young individual is musically talented and also attends a dance class as well which is outwith our project. The young person wishes to go to University.