Young Adult Carers City Break
A story by East Ayrshire Carers Centre
We took a group of young adult carers to Edinburgh in March 2022 for a well deserved short break following some very trying times during the last few years to alleviate the stress of caring providing fun activities to develop friendships and to make lasting memories.
They enjoyed Hairspray the musical, went to the cinema, bowling, laser quest, escape rooms, visited the zoo, went shopping, viewed many Edinburgh sights and enjoyed some exceptional eating out in various restaurants in Edinburgh.
We also provide weekly groups and 1 -1 support to young carers aged 5-25 years living in East Ayrshire.
What Young Adult Carers City Break did
We took a group of young adult carers to Edinburgh in March for a well deserved short break following some very trying times during the last few years to alleviate the stress of caring providing fun activities to develop friendships and to make lasting memories. They enjoyed Hairspray the musical, went to the cinema, bowling, laser quest, escape rooms, visited the zoo, went shopping, viewed many Edinburgh sights and enjoyed some exceptional eating out in various restaurants in Edinburgh.
The trip had been postponed from the previous year due to the theatres and hospitality venues closing so the young people who went on the break were extremely thankful to get this quality time away from their caring responsibilities. We identified young carers who had struggled during lockdown and where there was additional support at home for the cared for person which enabled them to get away.
We had a zoom meeting with the young people identified to discuss ideas for activities to do while visiting Edinburgh. We had many "firsts" with the group i.e first time in a hotel, visiting the zoo, attending a musical and more. It's provided many new and exciting experiences. The trip has developed friendships, improved well being given them a break from caring and provided opportunities to work together as a team.
We ended up with one young person being unable to make the trip at the last minute due to illness and it was to short notice to refill her place, but due to having to pre book all events we still had to pay for all activities. We also had another young person who tested positive for Covid on their last morning which did put a dampener on their time away but overall he still had many good memories of the trip. We had to ensure we had all activities and eating places booked prior to the trip due to continued restrictions around Covid but this has just become a way of life now.
The group had young people from our Kilmarnock, Cumnock and Dalmellington areas many who had never met but they bonded extremely well and have developed friendships which will last long after the trip has ended.
What East Ayrshire Carers Centre has learned
We learned that this is an achievable break for young people to pursue themselves now they have the confidence to travel and stay in a major city. Planning can be extremely challenging in these current times but hopefully we are now coming out of restrictions. 1-1 support enabled us to identify young people struggling to cope in these diverse times. We now need to look at getting back to identifying those hard to reach young people who are not know to our service to ensure they can feel supported and are able to access advice, information and support to allow them to continue in caring roles. As an organisation we constantly look at funding strands to support not just our young carers but adult carers to ensure we can offer a well rounded service of support.
How East Ayrshire Carers Centre has benefitted from the funding
The Creative Breaks funding allows us to offer a bespoke break to young adult carers which was a group that was historically under supported in the respite area. After running this type of break as a successful pilot a few years ago and from the positive feedback from this break we feel it provides a meaningful yet independent- break which opens up new opportunities to young people in this 18-25 year age group.
12 young carers will tell us they have improved their confidence, resilience, experienced new opportunities and improved their life skills, giving them the chance to pursue activities outside their caring role.
We have fully achieved this outcome with staff noticing levels of chat between the group improving, involvement in the activities and the laughter and discussion afterwards showing us they had a great time. We did the escape room on our first day which really had the whole team working together and was a great ice breaker. We had a few who were unsure of doing this activity but very soon were throwing themselves into the challenges. Eating out and staying in a hotel improved their life skills and showed them they could organise a similar holiday for themselves at a later date and it gave them the confidence to expand their horizons. All felt it had been a rewarding experience and they had enjoyed participating in new activities and seeing new places.
One young person who had been suffering with their own mental health due to caring responsibilities and juggling work stated the break came at the right time to allow them to breathe and get their spirit back, making them feel valued by staff and their peers giving them the confidence to fight back once home. They stated the activities had been fun and took their mind of what was happening at home allowing them to just enjoy life.
Young adult carers will have recharged the batteries, developed peer support, had a new experience creating memories to look back on thus ensuring they feel supported to sustain their caring role.
The young people attending this break had all been struggling with coping, experiencing overwhelming feelings at times during the last couple of years caring and juggling other commitments. The break came at a time when batteries were needing recharged and stock taking on how to come out of this pandemic and restart their own lives and to concentrate on themselves for a change. The break and the support of staff and peers allowed them to speak about this is a relaxed environment allowing them to feel valued and part of a bigger group for support.
One young person wanted to explore more of this vibrant city than our time allowed but has taken notes of places of interest with a hope to come back again with friends. He unfortunately tested positive for Covid on our last day which did put a bit of a damper on his time away but has not stopped him wanting to return as restrictions ease.
Young adult carers will say they feel their wellbeing has improved by getting a break away from their caring role.
We would end each day with drinks and a chat before retiring for the night to discuss the day picking our favourite moments and experiences which gave us great feedback to evaluate the break. Friendships developed over the 3 days with some meeting up since we returned home. All expressed feeling relaxed, in a better frame of mind and stated they could return home with a fresh vigour for life.
One young person had been having a really stressful time in her caring role at home and stated the break had come along at the right time for her. She started to get anxious when it was nearing her time to go back home so staff took time out to speak to her about additional support that could be put in to place on her return. We know we would not have picked up on the hard times she was going through at home as she is only able to attend our support groups occasionally due to work commitments. On the break she was relaxed and felt she could talk to us freely, opening up to the group and staff. This enabled us to discuss coping mechanisms, looking at how she could be supported to get her confidence and resilience levels increased.