Totally YAC Group
A story by Stirling Carers Centre
Our Totally Young Adult Carers Group provides a range of monthly age appropriate and varied activities for young adult carers aged 16-25 enabling them are able to have a break from their caring responsibilities.
What Totally YAC Group did
This was the second year of our funding from Creative Breaks and staffing and volunteers remained the same as last year. We promoted our Totally YAC activities on our website, through social media and in our newsletters. Drop in sessions and at events attended provided the YAC officer with opportunities to promote the activities. Names were taken on a first come first served basis for each event. Numbers were such that no waiting lists were required to be used. Numbers averaged 9 per event, but the last two events had twelve attendances reflecting a positive upward trend.
13 short breaks were offered during the funding period. These generally took place on a monthly basis. Sessions differed in length from 4- 24 hrs - for our trip in July to Alton Towers (in 24 hrs). Some took place in the evenings and some at weekends, depending on the activity. On average events were 5 hours in length. A wide range of activities were offered to be all encompassing, aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of our young adult carers, as well as having lots of fun!
Some activities were local including a trip to a fireworks display in Bridge of Allan, a trip to the cinema and to play bubble football however, other trips particularly those where it involved an outdoor activity were further afield and either the train or a minibus was hired to transport staff and the YACs. These included trying wakeboarding at Foxlake Water Park, taking part in It’s a Knockout event, and woodland combat at Crieff Hydro. Other fund leisure activities included a trip to see Sister Act, chocolate making, and attending a comedy festival.
The Young Adult Carers were fully consulted in planning the programme of activities, with the opportunity to comment on evaluation forms completed after the trips as well as at a focus group.
Sophie has benefited from improved well-being by having time to do fun activities with other young adult carers, helping her feel less stressed about her caring situation, as well as with her transition from school to university. Here she describes this difference in her own words:
"Before I joined YAC I was part of Young Carers Service for a couple of years and had a transition period in which I attended both I found this to be very beneficial not only to give me breaks from my caring role but also it meant I was able to form friendships and feel comfortable at the groups before fully integrating into YAC. I love the activities I do as part of the group such as going out for dinner and to the cinema as it means I can meet new people and go out more without having to worry about what is going on at home.
Also as part of YAC I can go speak to the staff if I have any issues and to help me with anything that I need transition into an adult such as my CV and applying to university. I am extremely thankful for the young adult carers service for giving me these opportunities and help and love being a part of it".
“I only really started getting out when I joined the YAC group. I very much enjoyed my first trip and have continued to enjoy them, the YAC service is different in terms of activities as we are adults and are able to do a variety of activities. Some memorable trips have been to Crieff Hydro, Go-karting, Laser tagging, Go-ape, Alton Towers, Fox Lake which is a water obstacle course and I did wakeboarding as well was a particular highlight.”
The YAC short breaks have allowed Jack the opportunity to access more opportunities out with his caring role including opportunities for peer support and to have a go at activities he may otherwise not experience.
“In terms of how the service has helped me with other aspects other than getting me out of the house. It has helped me get more friends who are in the same position as me and I keep in regular contact with them, we have meet ups either at their house or in town because before YAC I didn't really get out that much and my friends from school had different interests to me.”
Since starting with Stirling Carers Centre, I have built up my confidence and now feel more included through the people I have met through Young Adult Carers. Being a YAC can get really stressful at times and caring for my brother can get very hard.” When she joined the YAC group, Karen found that she often felt stressed and worried about her brother and did not have many opportunities to relax, build friendships and try new things.
“The YAC group has helped build up my confidence and develop my skills. Lots of people even tell me they see a big difference in me and my family is proud of me. Since joining the YAC group and going on the short breaks I have enjoyed meeting new friends and I now know that if I need someone to talk to, there’s someone there.”
Karen has found that by participating in the YAC short breaks, she has increased her confidence, resilience and self-esteem. The group environment has supported her and she is now more aware of where she can ask for help, as well as having the increased confidence to do so.
What Stirling Carers Centre has learnedFunding from the Creative Breaks programme, unexpectedly benefited us when we are able to include it as match funding in an application to the Big Lottery for our YAC service. We have learnt that in regards to activities they need to be wide ranging and all encompassing to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all our young adult carers for example for our YACs who are parents, evening trips locally i.e. to the cinema, were more suitable than trips away at weekends.
We also learnt not to shy away from arranging more challenging activities for our YACs as we found that some of the most rewarding trips were those where our YACs had the opportunity to challenge themselves and leave with a sense of accomplishment. One of our young adult carers commented on Foxlake water sports, "It was really good as we did something different, something we wouldn't usually do! Very much enjoyed it. "