Time For Me
A story by Action For Children
Time for Me offered Young Carers from North & South Lanarkshire the opportunity to experience a variety of innovative and exciting short breaks away from their caring responsibilities.
What Time For Me did
‘Time for Me’ delivered on-line breaks which included Cooking Classes, Movie Nights, Online Panto, Clubbercise and Yoga and art & craft activity sessions. One highlight was our innovative Gaming Library provision which was extremely popular with Families. During breaks in the Pandemic, we held live Soccer skills groups (Motherwell FC and Hamilton), Cinema visits and a number of themed activities such as Bowling, Climbing, Restaurant visits, Rumours Bakehouse experiences, Flip-Out (x 6 visits!) model making and two Action-Packed Forest Adventures at Go-Ape.
We also held an exciting visit to Celtic Park and Ice -Zone & Hang-on in Hamilton. Young carers attended theatre and concerts at the Hydro. All Pan-Lan breaks were planned with young carers and staff and split between different aged groups. Over 16s attended Gary Barlow, under 12s attended Bed knobs & Broomsticks and everyone attended ‘Gangsta-Granny! We supported two-over-night breaks to Glasgow and Edinburgh during a break in Pandemic restrictions.
We visited Heads of Ayr and Five Sisters Zoo; both were very popular breaks with under12s. All ‘Time for Me’ breaks were supported by both staff teams. The initiative required support from partners, and we are very grateful to Celtic FC, Lanarkshire Health & Well-being, Motherwell FC and staff at Flip-Out. ‘Time for Me’ allowed our young carers to enjoy time out from their caring role, get an opportunity feel refreshed and ready to care again and improve their physical & mental wellbeing. ‘Time for Me’ met SHANARRI outcomes, around feeling involved, respected, safe, active, responsible, included and in some cases like our ‘GO-Ape’ break, provided our young carers with a sense of achievement. Despite COVID, ‘Time to Me’ was a great success, helped massively by the extension to timelines which saved our Gaming Library and ‘in person’ short breaks.
What Action For Children has learned
The Creative Breaks funding and our ‘Time for me’ initiative was a wonderful initiative, but one which turned out to be vulnerable to the Pandemic and the issues which came from this. The pandemic actually meant that ALL our young carers where in need, as the lack of socialisation and communication with their peers was extremely damaging. The pandemic initially played havoc with our planning and also budgeting, as we could not meet a number of our aims and objectives. However, with some adjustments and utilization of non-Lock-down periods we managed to carry out a number of short breaks and activities where the YC could mix together with staff.
We learned to be extremely flexible and very innovative with ‘Time for me’, as we knew we had to quickly respond and react to windows of opportunity during lock-down. Staff learned new ways of working, utilizing Zoom, Microsoft teams and Menti-meter to gain feedback on-line and manage on-line groups. We learned how to source unusual supports such as the on-line panto which was un-heard of for us before. We faced other covid related issues such as not being able to source the equipment for our gaming library, which was thus delayed (but eventually proved to be extremely popular) so the extension from creative breaks was vital to make it a success. Staff worked well as a team to source attractive items for our activity boxes, with our Euro2021 being a particularly popular on-line celebration.
We provided breaks for many existing young carers and also a number of new young carers, as we worked through our Covid waiting lists in the last 6 months of the initiative. In regard to innovation, the team developed some excellent partnerships with Health and well-being staff, as well as fitness instructors and dance professionals, who helped to run all our on-line Zoom sessions. Indeed, partnerships were extremely important through-out the funding. We used up all our funding and also managed to consolidate with a little from herbal life also, which supported our many health and well-being sessions.
Staff became extremely resilient and determined to make the ‘Time for me’ initiative a success, and ensure we used up as much of the funding as possible. We were very pleased that we could eventually make our gaming library come to fruition, as it was an important part of our planning, in the event of not being able to complete other short breaks. We had great success with our soccer initiatives and also a number of over-night breaks, again, during non-lock -down windows. We also discovered that our Gaming library was a source of relaxation and distraction for the siblings and cared for.
‘I think the lending library is a fantastic idea. This gives the kids some downtime as well as being near to Mum and Dad. Us Mum's and Dad's also like to have a go. With some friendly competition between parents v kids. Or in our case Boys V Girls.’
Parent of YC-Hamilton.
Another parent commented: As you will see by the attached photo. Greg and Trinity are enjoying some bonding time. It's the first time in a long while that they have sat together without arguing over something. Mum and Dad enjoyed having a go of Mario to when the kids let us. It's the first thing that Trinity wants to play with in the morning and keeps her occupied until the battery runs out.
We think that the gaming library was a major success and we have actually looked at funding to expand this, as the amount we had within the ‘Time for me’ was limited. We wish to roll this out on a much greater scale, as it is very popular with young carers and their families, many of whom cannot afford to get use of a games machine and a variety of different games.
How Action For Children has benefitted from the funding
Our ‘time for me’ initiative from Creative breaks led to a number of partnerships which we developed to make the short breaks better run and more fun. We worked with Celtic FC & Motherwell FC, as well as a number of facilities, including Ravenscraig sports Centre and ‘Fives’ in Hamilton. We worked with free-lance sports instructors, Yoga teachers and also artists and dramatists. The initiative was extremely important in regard to establishing our new South Lanarkshire Young carers service, who benefitted greatly from the funding. This service was a new addition to our young carers portfolio, and our Creative breaks funding helped to evidence a variety of short breaks and added value to the service, which we hope will go a long way to retaining the service nest year. We made a good partnership with staff from ‘universal connections’ in South Lanarkshire, who participated in a number of our ‘time to me’ breaks, in South Lanarkshire. We asked one of our parents for feedback on the ‘Time for me’ initiative and if it had helped her as a cared for person (they attended the SLYC-Panto (Live): ‘Yes, most definitely I enjoy the wee break as I suffer with mental health issues and it's always something myself and my daughter look forward to every week. It's a wee bit of time out for us both. We really enjoyed going to the pantomime together at Christmas again something I couldn't do myself with her. There was transport provided to and from the theatre which was good as I suffer from anxiety and couldn't have made my own way there.’ The initiative has led to over 130 young carers receiving a break, and this work was reflected in our reporting to North and South Lanarkshire Council, going a long way to showing the strength of our staffing teams and also the commitment of Action for Children to apply for funding and remain committed to channeling this funding into young carers in our communities. Indeed, our success has led to more funding to expand our Gaming Library to more families of young carers in Lanarkshire. On getting an update on the creative break’s initiative, Diane Dunn (Senior Officer- North Lanarkshire Council) commented: ‘This is really fantastic Ian for the young people and credit to you and your staff for supporting all this.’
120 Young Carers across Lanarkshire will evidence feeling less isolated and lonely in their caring role during extended periods of isolation such as school holidays, weekends, and Covid-19 lockdown. This will be evidenced through participation in fun and exciting activities and innovative short breaks.
We over-achieved in this outcome. Over 135 enjoyed a short break and activity (target of 120). We successfully provided a programme of regular breaks, including Pandemic restricted activities and a number of Live breaks. (Helped by to the extension of timeline of the grant). Young carers from all age groups (8-18) experienced a break and feedback was that these were exciting and enjoyable, while reducing worry and anxiety. Our Innovative Gaming Library was particularly appreciated by young Carers and their siblings and parents. Success was reflected in young carer review feedback, parental communications and evidence gained through use of menti-meter and short break diaries. Young carers reflected on feeling safe, being involved and also being nurtured by staff members. All breaks had an active theme, even during restricted activities due to Covid. Partner agencies such as ‘Over The wall’ and NLC ‘Health & Well-being staff’ provided satisfaction feedback on young carer experiences.
Since April 2018, YC(One) has received support from the North Lanarkshire Young Carers Project. YC (one) received support due to her caring responsibilities for her Gran, however due to a change in circumstances, her Gran moved in a Care Home. Unfortunately, YC(One)’s Mum then became unwell and was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder and YC(One) cares for her Mum. YC(One) supports her Mum to complete household chores, provides emotional support and practical support when she is very unwell. Dad will support her to care for her Mum and they always ensure that one of them is at home to provide care to her Mum. Prior to our creative breaks initiative, YC(One) was finding it really difficult to socialise and get time away from her caring role. This led to a great deal of frustration and also resentment, as well as causing a level of anxiety and depression within YC (One) Through various short breaks provided through ‘Time for me’ , YC(One) has begun to grow in confidence and is beginning to feel more able to cope with the responsibilities that her caring role brings. She really looks forward to the outings and activities, and participated in a number of cinema visits, two outdoor activities, our soccer skills group and also a short overnight residential. The most important factor was that YC(One) was accompanied by fellow young carers and staff. This allowed her the chance to socialise with her peers, have some great fun and also discuss issues which were affecting her at home. Support from her peers was the most important aspect for YC(One) and it helped her to cope better, knowing she wasn’t the only YC with such responsibilities. This would not have been possible with out the funding from Creative Breaks. When asked about her favourite Creative break, YC(One) replied that the Alpaca Trekking, Heads of Ayr Farm Park and the residential break was the best. During these activities YC(One) enjoyed time with her peers and visited the Alpaca farm and a break to Glasgow. On the break, YC(One) appeared to be able to relax, enjoy her time as a teenager and interacted well with the group. YC(One) discovered some communication and organisational skills she did not think she had and decided she would like to attend the trip to ‘The Heads of Ayr Farm’ as a Peer Mentor. YC(One) was involved in some of the planning for two of her short breaks which provided her with further insight into the work involved in being a Support Worker which she wants to become. “I loved walking the Alpaca, it was hilarious because one of them kept trying to steal our picnic! It was great to be outdoors in the nice weather and was very usual walking an alpaca.” On her first overnight break funded via Creative breaks, YC(One) commented, ‘I absolutely loved going to on an overnight stay. When we first arrived, I was a little unsure because I was thinking about my Mum and hoping that she was okay, but then I got to know all of the young people much better, and they took my mind off this. I really enjoyed going out to nice restaurants and having some nice foods and going to the cinema was great fun, cause I haven’t been in a long time’. Also, YC(One)’s Mum and Dad were very positive about all of the experiences that YC(One) has been involved in during the summer break “We really appreciate everything that the Project has done for YC(One). When she comes home from being with you guys (North Lanarkshire Young Carers Project) she is always hyper and enjoys telling us what she has been up to! YC(One) is now a more confident young girl, and it is great to see her enjoying herself.” This is a great example of how the ‘Time for me’ met so many outcomes for YC(One), including feeling safe, respected in her choice making, nurtured, included and active.
120 Young Carers across Lanarkshire will feel better able to cope with caring role, due to the friendships and support networks that they establish during the short break/activities they attend. Having a choice over the SB/activity they take part in will help YCs feel empowered. This will build their confidence.
We over-achieved in some aspects of this outcome. Over 135 (target of 120) enjoyed a break from their caring role at home with their peers. 90% of activities were group related. It was not possible to involve all in planning, however where possible we got our 16+ young carers group to suggest ideas. We used Menti-meter with some younger groups to get ideas on activities. During the ’Time for Me’ initiative, we had an 8% rate of failure to attend where on-line activities were offered due to the pandemic. We had a 98% attendance rate for all ‘Live’ activities and breaks. Feedback from parents and young carers gained at review and using menti-meter reflected that young carer enjoyed activities and felt more confident and valued after each break. Cared for persons were very supportive in planning and feeding back to staff how they felt, with the majority being happy and relieved that their children had a quality break from caring which did not have financial implications for the family.
YC(Two) has received support from the North Lanarkshire Young Carers Project for three years due to his caring responsibilities for his Mum who lives with epilepsy and mental health difficulties. YC(Two) has a close relationship with his Mum and supports her around the family home with household tasks, will visit the local shops for groceries and will contact another family member or an ambulance when his Mum becomes unwell. Throughout the pandemic YC(Two)’s Mum’s health has deteriorated, and she has been hospitalised on a few occasions. This has negatively impacted YC(Two)’s emotional wellbeing, as he was extremely worried about his Mum and has been upset, stressed, and worried when his Mum has been admitted to Hospital. Also, the family have been experiencing financial difficulties and this has placed added pressure on the family. Also, YC(Two) was struggling with friendships in his local area. Therefore, he spent the majority of his time in the family home. ‘Time for me’ proved to be an incredible source of support to YC(Two) both in terms of getting out to enjoy some short breaks with his peers from young carers, but also in making use of our fabulous gaming library, where he received use of an X BOX and some games. This was invaluable to him breaking up his caring role, and also gaming online with the other young carers who were part of the Gaming initiative. ‘Being part of the gaming library has given me and my mum the opportunity to bond and play games together, as well as having a laugh online with the other carers who have an x-box!’ In regard to the Gaming initiative, YC (two) mum said: Thank you so much for this including us in the game’s library. It has made a huge difference in not only David’s life but mines too. What a great joy it has brought. David is not as bored (what kids are like these days lol) the X Box has kept him really busy, and we are both enjoying it. What a great idea. Anyways words can’t express how fantastic this has been but would like to say Thank you, Also Thankyou to the wonderful people who thought of this initiative. Very rewarding for young carers. YC(Two) attended the virtual Pantomime with his Mum where they enjoyed a Christmas time activity and some time together in the comfort of their own home. YC(Two) also attended the Gary Barlow concert and a trip to Celtic Park. YC(Two) also attended a short break with his peer group to Flip-Out trampoline park. Mixing with other young carers was important as it allowed YC(Two) to share his reflections on the challenges he faces each day, while also developing his ability to listen to his peers. This development of communication and socialisation skills was so important during ‘Time for Me’. The young person really enjoyed his breaks and particularly being picked up from home by staff “I love when Jason comes to my house to take me out. I can have a chat with him and fun too!” Mum told us that she felt her son had become more confident about going out and that it was great to see him active and looking forward to getting out of the house for a while. She feels that this has helped her as she often feels guilty and upset when she has to rely on him. YC (Two) enjoyed some time with his Mum watching the Panto, he said “Me and My Mum haven’t been to a Panto. I loved sitting on my sofa and having snacks with my Mum”. The outing to Flip-Out trampoline park was thoroughly enjoyed by YC(Two), he really enjoyed running around, laughing with his peers and participating in the activity. The support and activities that YC(Two) participated in enabled him to have some time for himself, to have some time away from his caring responsibilities and has provided him with the opportunity to be with other young people of a similar age to himself.
120 YCs and CFP from across Lanarkshire will show improvements in their physical, social and emotional outcomes after taking part in the Time for Me project. Co-producing Time for Me will give YCs a choice of SBs/activities that best suit their individual needs.
Our E aspire review system reported that 70% of young carers who participated in ‘Time for me’ had an increase in their outcomes scores for metal health and well-being. This means we fell below our target of 95%. We believe that the pandemic and ‘Zoom-Fatigue’ may have played a part in this. Outcomes for well being were far higher for the Young Carers who had a ‘Live’ short break with other young carers during lock-down free windows. (80%) However, all young carers who attended the ‘Time for Me’ initiative are still caring for their family members while attending the young carers service. Levels of uptake on our short breaks were very high, particularly with live events. Feedback from menti-meter reflected that young carers felt that getting a break helped them cope at home and gave them something to look forward to. Cared for family members reported feeling less ‘Guilty’ and ‘self-conscious’ about being cared for by their children, when they knew they got a break
Not long after getting our creative breaks funding, a pandemic began, and families were informed of a lock-down situation and had to stay in their homes for many months. Also, the schools were closed. This brought added stress and pressure to some of the families that we support and made our Creative breaks funding an important lifeline to the young carers ability to socialise and communicate with other Young Carers. YC(Case3) aged 11, lives at home with her Mum who lives with neurological function disorder and limited mobility. We used some of our Creative break’s funding to deliver a number of exciting virtual groups and as part of this programme we hired a nutritionist to deliver a series of cookery groups. YC(Case3) was part of these groups. With support and supervision from her Mum, she was able to participate in cooking a tomato pasta and some blueberry pancakes. Staff delivered the required ingredients to the family home and Lily and her Mum were guided through the cookery session on zoom. Not only did this provide a nutritious meal for the family, but it also gave them some quality time together. Mum had informed staff that their relationship had been stressful and difficult through lock-down, and Lily was becoming frustrated and angry with having to care for her Mum. Mum noted ‘cooking together was fun, we were able to have a laugh with one another and spend some quality time together. It has been stressful in lock-down, as I have been struggling with my emotions and have required more support from Lily with my mobility’. Lily commented ‘It was great fun, the pasta was delicious, and I love learning how to cook and about nutrition.” YC(Case3) was also involved in a fruit kebab workshop. Again, a variety of fruits were delivered to the family home, including fruits that Lily may have never tried e.g., kiwi, melon, and passion fruit. Through the session, Lily was able to create her own fruit kebab and loved this group. Lily said ‘I love fruit and we don’t always have a lot in my home. It was so much fun, cutting up my fruits and sharing my kebabs with my Mum’. Overall, the ‘Time for me’ funding has enabled our services to provide online supports to the families that we support, provided them with information in relation to nutrition and enabled them to remain well fed and healthy throughout a very challenging time. The yoga and exercise sessions have injected some fun and laughter into the young carers lives at a time when they have been struggling with their caring responsibilities in a very unusual and challenging time within the world. Later in ‘Time for me’ YC(Case3) finally got out to enjoy some actual physical short breaks. She attended the very first post lock-down event in Strathclyde Park, and also went twice to the cinema and one to Heads of Ayr. She also attended a short break to Flip-Out and a Glasgow Bakery where she made some cakes to bring home to her family. Her favourite break was the soccer skills course which we ran with Motherwell FC. YC(Case3) is a keen Motherwell Fan and soccer player, and it was fantastic to see her and the other YC finally getting a chance to get out and expend some energy, after terrible periods of Lock-Down.