Residential Adventure Break
A story by Fife Young Carers
We held 2 weekend breaks for Young Carers, aged under 18, one at The Cairngorms Adventure Centre and one at Fordell Firs Activity Centre. Young Carers were able to experience a variety of team building activities such as white water rafting, bell boats, challenge course, kayaking, and orienteering.
What Residential Adventure Break did
In July 2023 a group of 14 young carers took part in a weekend residential for 2 nights to The Cairngorms Activity Centre. The young carers identified for this break were highlighted to staff by their key worker as a young carer who takes on a high intensity caring role, would not be having any other break from their caring role and in desperate need of a well deserved break, many of the young carers experience social exclusion and or have poor mental health.
During the course of the weekend the young carers were able to take part in the following activities; gorge walking, paddle boarding, abseiling and kayaking, for many of the young carers they had never experienced any of these activities before so this was an excellent experience for them, staff were on hand to encourage and support the young carers to challenge any fears they experienced when taking part. The group were able to have down time in the evening building on relationships with other young carers who attended as well as building stronger relationships with the staff members who attended.
In August 2023 a group of 17 young carers attended a 2 night residential break to Fordell Firs Activity Centre, the young carers for this trip were identified by their key worker as a young carer who takes on a high intensity caring role, would not be having any other break from their caring role and in desperate need of a well deserved break, many of the young carers experience social exclusion and or have poor mental health.
The activities on offer at this trip included; a challenge course, caving, survival skills, abseiling, climbing, bell boats and evening activities such as a scavenger hunt and a campfire with hot chocolate and s'moers. These activities provided the young carers with a chance to experience a range of different activities which they would otherwise not experience, build on friendships within the group.
One particular highlight was a young carer who attended The Cairngorms break was initially very apprehensive over any water activities as he was lacking any confidence, by the end of the first day he was able to take part in all activities unsupported.
What Fife Young Carers has learned
Three things we have learned from these trips are:
Targeting families most in need of support - Ensuring we target the families of those most in need of a break, this was done through thorough planning with the staff team, ensuring good conversations were had and all staff were aware to only nominate those young carers with a high intensive caring role, this was due to the limited number that were able to attend each break.
Developing new short break activities - We found that with the break to the Cairngorms Activity Centre, Young Carers really enjoyed the adrenaline filled activities such as gorge walking, this has allowed us to look at future activities to be adrenaline filled to ensure the Young Carers have fun and take part in the activities.
Project planning and budgeting - we have learned through the underspend to ensure we are fully aware of what activities are included in the cost when booking a package break, we never realised evening activities were included at Fordell Firs so had factored in additional activities to take place off site when these were not required.
How Fife Young Carers has benefitted from the funding
Fife Young Carers have benefited from the Creative Breaks Funding as we have been able to develop new links with an outdoor activity centre further afield than Fife, this has introduced the team to think about respite breaks further afield than Fife for future residential breaks. This funding has also allowed us to re-establish links with Fordell Firs, following covid-19. The behaviour of all young carers attending the breaks has strengthened Fife Young Carers reputation with both activity centres, with good feedback being received from the centre staff, who have said they would be honoured if we were to chose to attend another break there.
Young carers will form new friendships with peers and will remain in contact with them after the residential, young carers will be keen to attend future respite opportunities.
This project outcome was fully achieved. We were able to offer a range of different team building activities during both breaks. Young carers from all areas of Fife and differing backgrounds were able to come together, work as a team to over come any challenges and support each other to take part in these activities. Friendships were formed during these breaks and the young carers have remained in contact with each other. The young carers continue to talk about the break and how much they enjoyed this time away. The young carers are looking forward to any future breaks they may be invited to attend.
Joe is a 16-year-old carer for his dad who has Parkinson’s disease. Joe has a high caring role helping with all day-to-day tasks within the family home as well as providing a lot of emotional support to both parents. Joe always puts the need of his parents before his own often meaning he will go home from school during his lunch break to provide his mum with a break from caring for dad, this has resulted in Joe becoming very socially isolated and lacking in any self-confidence. Joe was identified by staff as being in desperate need of a break away from his caring role, so he was invited to attend the respite trip to cairngorms. Joe has autism and ADHD this impacts him in social situations so one to one work was completed prior to attending to ensure he felt comfortable to attend. Joe was provided with information about the trip and the activities that we would be taking part in, he was extremely nervous about attending. Once we arrived Joe then made staff aware he has a fear of water and hasn’t been in water/a swimming pool for years. During the trip Joe overcame this fear and went gorge walk, paddle boarding and kayaking with the other young carers in his group. And did it all with a smile on his face. Staff where there to encourage and support Joe through these activities. Mum was amazed the Joe even got in the water. At cairngorms he made a couple of friends from throughout Fife, that he wouldn’t have met without this break, and they had a lot in common. They talked nonstop about the games they play on the PlayStation. Joe had the biggest smile on his face and was laughing and joining in with all activities. He has gained so much confidence from cairngorms he came home a different person with a new network of friends which he has remained in contact with since returning home.
Young Carers will feel better supported by staff having developed a close bond and relationship during the residential breaks, this will allow the young carers to feel more comfortable seeking advice from staff on how to manage their caring role
This project outcome was fully achieved. Since returning from both breaks the young carers who attended have engaged with additional support, they now report they feel more confident in reaching out to their key worker should they have any worries or concerns. Young carers have been more open when discussing their caring role with staff and will seek out staff when they know they are in their school. Staff have reported seeing an increase in the numbers attending fortnightly group support, with the young carers who previously rarely attended now attending on a regular basis. Staff have also reported better relationships with the young carers families following the breaks, parents are now reaching out to staff to discuss any concerns they may have within the home environment.
Sadie is a primary carer for her dad. Dad has multiple health issues the main one being poor mobility due to arthritis, he cannot move upstairs, this has resulted in him suffering with depression and anxiety. Sadie lives with her 2 siblings and her dad; she often struggles to open up about her feelings as she doesn’t want to cause any worry to her dad. She has no contact with her mum. Sadie attended the respite break to the cairngorms, providing a much-needed break from her caring role, she had lots of fun gorge walking, paddle boarding and abseiling. At the start of the break staff noticed that Sadie was slightly withdrawn from the other young carers, when staff checked in on her she would dismiss them and say everything was fine. As the weekend went on and Sadie was taking part in activities along side staff and other young carers you could see her start to relax a little. After a day away, when staff checked in on Sadie, she opened up about worries she has at home and about worries she has about her dad, staff ensured Sadie was provided with some one to one time each evening to discuss these worries which allowed her to then have a restful night and enjoy the activities planned the following day. Once home a worker continued to check in on Sadie and she now has regular one to one sessions to provide her a safe space to talk with a member of staff which she has built a relationship with and trusts.
Young carers will feel relaxed after a break and will return to their caring duties with a refreshed sense of purpose and know there are people they can turn to and activities they can take part in should they need support. Cared for will benefit as their carers will feel positive and motivated
This outcome was fully achieved. Through reviews and one to one sessions after the break young carers have reported feeling the lasting benefits of the break, having had a prolonged break they felt better able to continue within their caring role, they reported having a wider circle of friend who understand the challenges they face and are able to turn to for some informal support or to arrange to meet up with for some time out. They have reported enjoying attending further activities that they are invited to attend. Through discussions with the wider family it has been reported the difference in the young carers since attending the break, how they have been more relaxed and open about any challenges, the families have said this is due to the break they experienced.
Steph is 10 years old and is a secondary carer for her adopted brother. Unfortunately, due to the process of being in foster care he went through significant trauma which has caused a severe impact on his wellbeing. Steph provides constant re assurance and signpost coping strategies to help him cope in day-to-day life. She helps him regulate his emotions at school and at home. Steph was invited to attend the respite break to Forder Firs. She did lots of activities and participated well in the teams and in the lodge. She was seen to relax and just enjoy being on her own. The break gave her the opportunity to grow and recognise that it is important to have self-care. The break supported Steph to develop to her full potential in a safe a nurturing environment achieving skills and an increase in her own self esteem. Due to the residential, Steph felt able to clear her mindset allowing her to go back and fulfil her role as a young carer after being able to recharge her own wellbeing. This resulted in her and her brothers’ relations being secure.