Totally YAC Group
A story by Carers Forum Stirling Area t/a Stirling Carers Centre
Our Totally YAC Group provided monthly short breaks for Young Adult Carers. They had access to varied and age appropriate activities, offering opportunities for socialising, and meeting others in the same situation.
Giving them a regular break from their caring role within a supportive environment.
What Totally YAC Group did
This has been the first year of our Totally Young Adult Carers Group. It is an integral part of our new Young Adult Carers Service. The service started in July 2015, with the employment of our Young Adult Carers Support Officer. The group stated in October which gave our officer a couple of months to work in consultation with existing Young Adult Carers to develop a programme of activities for the year to meet their needs.
All of the activities were widely publicised across our media platforms including in both our Young Carers and Adult Carers Newsletters, our website and across our social media platforms. Our Young Adult Carers Officer promoted the service locally to a range of partnership agencies. Some of the Young Adult Carers self-referred, whilst others had been previous Young carers with our centre.
We planned to run 12 sessions, but actually ran 15 sessions, which took place in a range of different locations. All our activities were for Young Adult Carers who were aged between 16-25. Generally sessions lasted for between 4-6 hours. The exception to this was our trip to Alton Towers which took 24 hrs.
The sessions organised provided a wide range of opportunities to take part in activities to suit everyone, from active activities including Go Ape to a relaxing spa afternoon. Other activities included a trip to Edinburgh to see the Xmas market, go-karting and cinema, as well as attending the Glasgow Comedy Festival. Times and dates of the activities varied to suit the needs of the Young Adult Carers.
We found that the best times for activities tended to be Monday and Thursday evenings. The groups sessions provided opportunities for the Young Adult Carers to meet others in the same situation and to have fun, try new activities and have a well -deserved break from their caring role, hopefully increasing their own confidence through expanding their peer groups and trying out new things.
We have seen a rise in young people struggling with their own mental health and also have many young people whom are unemployed or not in any further education. It was hoped that by reducing their isolation and building resilience amongst the group that they would feel better equipped to deal with challenges such as these.
Like many Young Adult Carers often Martin felt there was no-one he could speak to about his worries or concerns and this had a detrimental impact on his own well being. Martin has attended the short breaks over the last year and has benefited from having others in similar situations to him to talk to. He commented, “Things are much better when you get the chance to have a break and just speak about the things that are bothering you”. This has improved his own well being and allows him the chance to feel less stressed and less isolated.
*not his real name
Alfie attended a number of the short break activities over the course of the last year. He said ‘Young Adult Carers has helped me to transition from young carers which has made it less scary as I now know that I still will be supported in my caring role by the Young Adult Carers Worker’.
Not only does he find that the Totally Young Adult Carers Group allows him a chance to get a break and have a go at activities that he would usually get to do but he also feels better about his caring role as a result of the break he gets and feels more able to cope
“The short breaks are amazing, not only do they give me a break from my caring role, there are understanding staff that I can speak to about anything and the chance to try cool new things that I would have never been able to do without them.”
*not his real name
Andy contacted the centre with some queries in relation to the support we could offer and it was quickly identified that group support and the chance to get out and about with people of a similar age in similar situations would really suit him. Previous to this Andy had not informed his college of his caring role or thought to seek any support or advice.
During his time coming along to the activities, Andy has found that he feels more part of the group and asks for support where he previously may not have. “The group lets us feel more included and accepted, we get new activities to try out and meet other young adult carers in the same situation as myself.”
He also likes the time away from his caring role, which helps improve his own wellbeing, “It gives me a couple of hours to myself and not have to worry about anything.”
*not his real name
What Carers Forum Stirling Area t/a Stirling Carers Centre has learnedThe fund provided us with a great start to our Young Adult Carers Service, by enabling us to offer an exciting and varied programme of activities. We found that active promotion of the service through partnership working is key to raising awareness of the Totally Young Adult Carers group and of Young Adult Carers in general, who are still very much a hidden group. We are continuing to develop our partnerships in the locality, as we believe this is key to increasing the number of referrals we receive.
An unexpected benefit which has arisen from our Totally Young Adult Carers Group is that our Young Adult Carers started to develop their own informal support networks and friendships, through the use of social media which is evidence that the peer support aspect of the service is working. Indeed, many of them now meet up out with the group.
Through consultation with our Young Adult Carers both formally through our focus group and through informal feedback recorded by our Young Adult Carers Officer, the Young Adult Carers have been actively involved in developing the Totally Young Adult Carer Group over the last year, ensuring that the service we are providing is personalised to meet the need of our Young Adult Carers. This will continue as the group has asked for opportunities to feed into future planning of the activities.