Surf's Up and Away
A story by Mid Argyll Youth Development Services (MAYDS)
This project gave Young Carers from across Mid Argyll, Kintyre and Islay respite from their caring role through a 2 day adventure residential at Lochgoilhead Outdoor Centre, and regular access to local activities such as surfing lessons and pony club.
What Surf's Up and Away did
This project was twofold, the first part was to support young carers to attend fortnightly surfing lessons and pony club sessions with the aim of allowing them regular respite away from the home and their caring roles. The second was a partnership project where we took 15 young carers from Mid Argyll, 15 from Kintyre and 15 from Islay to Lochgoilhead Outdoor Centre for a 2 day residential.
The trip to Lochgoilhead allowed young carers to mix with other young people in similar situations, gave them time away to have fun with peers, created positive new experiences, memories and friendships and helped build confidence and self esteem through participation in activities such as team building exercises, bell boating, power boating, archery, bush-craft, night walks etc.
All participants accessing this project were young carers identified and referred via agencies such as school, social work, health, youth services etc. All young carers referred were accommodated within this project whether it be through alternate sessions at surfing and pony club etc. A strength of this project was the partnership aspect which meant we brought young carers from 3 remote areas across Argyll and Bute together for 2 days, this allowed staff from different areas to share experience and knowledge while allowing the young carers from different areas to interact, have fun and share experiences.
The priority areas addressed within this project were choice and control (through both the residential and surfing etc. young carers had a choice of activities they could participate in and choice of when they wanted to participate attend etc. The activities offered helped build confidence etc), outreach (the project brought young carers from rural and remote areas together and offered them opportunities where barriers not only include there caring roles.
However issues such as travel, limited public transport, financial costs of activities etc.) and joint working (the project allowed services across 3 areas to work together). Coordinating and managing to take 45 young carers to Lochgolihead for 2 nights was huge undertaking and success. The project went to plan.
What Mid Argyll Youth Development Services (MAYDS) has learned
Coordinating a trip across 3 areas can be time consuming in terms of transport, travel, paperwork etc. We have learned this was a much needed and vital program for many young people and more of this kind of thing is needed.
We also learnt that no matter whether it is a few hours or two days any time away for these young cares is vital for everyone and can make such changes in young people confidence and self esteem.
How Mid Argyll Youth Development Services (MAYDS) has benefitted from the funding
The funding has allowed us to develop new partnerships with other areas across Argyll and Bute, it also allowed us to increase our capacity and what we can offer in terms of young carers services locally.
Young carers will have had regular free time and space to allow them to enhance their personal health and mindfulness. Young carers will have better self-awareness and improved self image.
This outcome was fully achieved as young carers had regular access to activities that gave them free time and space away from their caring role. The activities that were offered such as surfing, horse-riding, bush-craft etc., allowed for improved physical and mental health. Time in the outdoors where they could learn new skills become more self aware and be positive about their achievements such as standing on a surf board, cantering on a horse, building a hut and more.
As part of this program a 13 year old boy was referred to this services as he had a caring role for his young sister due to his mum's illness. He had limited personal and recreational time and as a result his personal well-being was suffering. He lacked confidence and self-esteem. Through Mid Argyll Youth Development Services he was supported to attend the surfing program an activity he had always wanted to try but couldn't due to time and finances. Straight away he took to the sport and thrived in the water. He never missed a session and grew confident in his own abilities and skills eventually being able to stand on the board and get a real grasp of the sport. He stated that he liked being in the water as it made him feel happy and gave him some head space. Over the weeks he became more open to staff and the instructor and had a positive cheer about him. He also attended the 2 day residential where he had a great time meeting no people and having fun.
Young carers will access regular and different activities outside their caring role.
This outcome was fully achieved as the young carers we worked with had consistent and regular access and respite time through horse riding and surfing sessions. In addition to this they had a full 2 days away on a residential that was packed with activities and experiences they otherwise would of not had.
During this program we worked with 2 young girls who are siblings, 14 and 12. They live in a rural village and both mum and dad have physical illnesses meaning the girls often go nowhere but school. Both of them love animals and we put them on our horse-riding program, both on different weeks to give them time away from each other as well. The girls have thrived through the horse-riding program their abilities and confidence are like night and day since we first met them. They feel a sense of achievement earning their badges and certificates and benefit greatly away fro the home even if for a few hours. Both girls also went on the 2 day residential and this had a huge impact on them as it let them have fun, meet new people and be young for a change. On leaving Lochgolihead Centre both asked when the next trip there was and continue to talk about to this day. That was there only trip away this year.
Young carers will have improved support networks.
This outcome was fully achieved as part of the work we done was promoting young carers and young carers services across the area meaning young carers, parents, teachers other professionals etc. are now more aware of what a young carers is and where they can go for help support and advice. All the young carers we worked with have now built up relationships with Mid Argyll Youth Development Services staff and know we are here to help, support and signpost them. The partnership across the 3 areas allowed young across to build support networks in other areas with both young carers and professionals.
One of the young girls attending the residential was a 10 year old whom had recently been placed in foster care due to her caring role for her addicted mother. She came to the residential and was very outgoing and mixed well with all the other areas. Unfortunately her foster placement in Mid Argyll did not work out and she was replaced with a family on Islay as she had been on the trip with young carers and staff from the youth services on Islay it meant when she moved there she already knew people and had support networks making the process much easier than if she did not know anyone.