Renfrewshire Young Carers Project
A story by No Strings Attached (Scotland)
We ran a music and asthma management project in Renfrewshire for Young Carers using wind instruments as a tool for asthma self management. The project is focussed on making learning about asthma self-management through playing a wind instrument fun.
What Renfrewshire Young Carers Project did
We have continued to secure a venue for delivery at Paisley Grammar School, subject to the availability of accommodation and music teachers, and our asthma nurse we ran weekly music tuition sessions for the Young Carers between October 2015 and October 2016 (with a break over Christmas, Easter and the Summer). This is continuing after the period of funding, and did not end in October 2016.
We obtained the services of a new qualified asthma nurse to provide asthma management support for the Young Carers, and a new music teacher. Provided free music woodwind instruments on loan for the young carers. Continued to attract a core of 12 Young Carers with asthma to the Project, with another 3 attending on a more spasmodic basis dues to caring obligations. Of the 12 core members 3 are new to the Project over the past year.
We used funding from the Short Breaks Fund to pay for music teachers to continue our work with Renfrewshire Young Carers at Paisley Grammar.
Succeeded in obtaining funding commencing October 2016 to develop a digital online version of the project to expand services to other Young Carers unable to physically attend the Project. Continued to see Young Carers maintain an improvement in their asthma management and music ability as well as new members showing an improvement in asthma management.
Developed peer support mechanisms through music tuition to help identify and develop opportunities for Young Carers with asthma to help each other.
We maintained the increased involvement of Cared for Adults of the Young Carers, many of whom now attend every week and participate in our activities, especially those organised by the Asthma Nurse. Involved Young Carers and Cared for individuals in decision making on how the project could progress.
Project outcomes included improvements in both symptom control and in asthma self-management and afford the participants the opportunity to develop better breathing and asthma control through the playing of wind instruments. We achieve this by providing trained support in asthma management, quality musical tuition and developing and encouraging peer support mechanisms.
The project grew from the Scottish Government Young Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010–2015, especially in regard to the right to have a healthy life, to spend time with friends, to enjoy opportunities for leisure, relaxation and play, and to an education, in this case music education, which is often denied to young people with asthma
"B never really had a group of friends before because she was looking after me a lot of the time. Coming to the project she has met new friends and everyone has made her feel welcome. It's given her something to do out of our home."
A Cared For adult noted "C is a lot happier and their asthma is less of a problem. He joined the local band in their school last year and over the following year played an increasing role in the band." The Cared For adult is convinced her child would "not have been allowed to join the band were it not for the Project."
What No Strings Attached (Scotland) has learnedIt has been a challenging year for the Charity, perhaps it's most challenging, because of the various backgrounds of the Young Carers we have learned,to have to adapt our teaching style, especially with regards to music education to suit their dedication, and where appropriate set them challenges to extend their musical ability.
To not to push things too far too quick For example, Some are happy to play in public, others less so. We have to respect that. Unexpected Challenges or benefits also taught us a few things, the Young Carers with asthma continue to surprise with their enthusiasm in the face of multiple adversity. Several display a degree of maturity early in life and are committed to the project which many see (quite rightly) as their ‘night off’ at their 'Club', as they call it.
Their degree of confidence continues to grow, through a mixture of better asthma management, playing music, mixing with peers and slowly growing into vibrant teenagers. Their history seems to make them more devoted to the Project than could perhaps have been said of some children in other projects we ran.
What we would do differently in the future with regard to the Young Carers and their Cared For Adults is to further adapt our music expectations and delivery more to suit each individual, success comes in many shapes and forms. The project has gone remarkably well so far, apart from some issues which arose in the summer this year. We have reviewed our operations, and more particularly delivery methods, as seen by the Digital Music and Asthma Management programme we will be rolling out over 2017, and designed to improve access to the project for those who cannot physically attend.
In terms of professional support a number of lessons have been learned this year, maintain and bring along individuals helping us with our future plans more, and to resolve any differences at an earlier stage. The Digital Project was discussed with our previous asthma nurse before we submitted our application for funding (to another funder) for that aspect of our project, and she gave no indication of any concerns. However, it subsequently became clear she was uncomfortable about potential implications for her relatively traditional, but still successful, approach to existing and future Young Carers, and it would have been helpful if she had aired these concerns sooner.
We need individuals open to change and contemporary ways of working. Thankfully our new asthma nurse and music teacher are sympathetic and supportive of our proposals. We need to ensure future individuals who work with us are similarly minded.