It is our mission to level the playing field for young carers of ages 5-25. To achieve this, we know that we must do the following:
• Create a more understanding, supportive and inclusive culture for young carers
• Protect the mental and emotional wellbeing of young carers
• Support young carers to achieve their full personal, academic and professional potential
These are the three critical objectives towards which we strive in everything we do, and it is against these aims that we measure our impact.
Take a look below to find out how our programmes and services contribute to each of these essential goals.
Creating a more understanding, supportive and inclusive culture for young carers
Through our School Support Programme, we provide staff with training and advice on identifying and supporting young carers and establishing a young carers’ support network relevant to the school environment. We also deliver student assemblies to educate young people about the role of a young carer and tackle the stigmas and misconceptions surrounding the title. Since launching in September 2020, we have worked with 34 schools in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
Through our Employability Programme, we work with employers to raise awareness of the challenges and demands that young carers face, the wealth of skills they have to offer, and how they could reasonably and helpfully adapt their expectations to a young carer’s circumstances.
Our CEO, Krista Sharp, is currently completing a PhD around the impact of high-quality provision for young carers. Her research will be published in an impact report and distributed to all schools, young carer charities and councils across the UK.
In everything we do and in all of our communications, we champion and celebrate the young carers we serve. At present, there are thought to be over 700,000 young carers hidden and therefore receiving no support across the UK. We work to develop a broader understanding of the young carer title and foster a culture of respect for the incredible work they do. More young carers might feel empowered to come forwards and access the help that’s available to them.
Protecting the mental and emotional wellbeing of young carers
Because our Memory-Making and R&R Retreat Programmes bring young carers together as a community to enjoy much-needed breaks from their caring responsibilities; they provide young carers with the opportunity to engage with the 'five ways to wellbeing'. We use the 'five ways to wellbeing' to underpin our work to help protect young carers' mental health and reduce any feelings of stress and isolation they may experience. In 2020 we supported over 270 young carers through our Memory-Making and R&R Retreat Programmes, although these were unable to run during lockdown. Of these, 97% told us that they had enjoyed themselves, 94% said to us that they had made at least one friend and 87% told us that, they had felt like part of a community. One young carer commented that "Being a young carer sometimes makes me feel frustrated because everything's on me. I'm quick to get angry and I think that's why. Days like today help me to relax."
With our usual programmes unable to run due to the outbreak of Covid-19, we adapted promptly to young carers emerging needs. We created a bespoke programme of activities delivered on youtube by leading experts called MYTIME @ Home. MYTIME @ Home was such a success, Ellie our Communications Manager received an award from Social CEOS for Digital Champion of the Year 2020. Shortly after MYTIME @ Home we took our activities online to Zoom. Our online youth group has provided young carers with opportunities for relaxation, leisure and, most importantly, social interaction during a very challenging year. In its infancy, we surveyed 29 young carers who had participated, 100% reported feeling less stressed due to attending. Of those who felt isolated before the youth group, 100% also reported feeling less lonely. One young carer stated that "MYTIME Zoom Calls have been great for me. The first session was a meditation, and afterwards, I felt less stressed and not gloomy anymore. It was so good to chat to other people."
Fast forward 11 months, and we have delivered zoom sessions to over 150 young carers and young adult carers. So much has our confidence grown in providing excellent content, we have invited young carer organisations from across the UK to attend with their young carer groups.
In the exceptional circumstances that the outbreak of Covid-19 created, we launched a Food Provision Programme. We delivered weekly food shopping to 20 of the most vulnerable young carers across Dorset and their families. We began to respond to a real emerging need for young carers, many of them were having to do the family food shop alone whilst protecting a shielding member of their family. By providing them with safely delivered food, we were able to ensure their physical well-being. We alleviated the pressure and stress of taking on what had become such a difficult task during Covid-19. In turn, this provision had a real impact on their emotional state. It also proved to young carers that their wider community hadn't forgotten about them. Over four months, we made a total of 171 deliveries.
Supporting young carers to achieve their full personal, academic and professional potential
The work we do through our School Support Programme to raise awareness of young carers and to ensure that they feel supported within the school environment will, almost certainly, have a knock-on effect on a young carer’s educational outcomes. In addition to this, we produce young carer policies for schools to ensure that the necessary provision is in place to allow young carers to succeed, and help schools to monitor the attendance and attainment of young carers, suggesting appropriate and sensitive measures that staff can take to boost these where necessary. Finally, we provide opportunities for work experience and effective careers advice through schools, to reduce the percentage of young carers who go on to be unemployed as young adults. Associate Executive Principal of Glenmoor and Winton Academies said the following about our work: “Since beginning the project, the quality of the provision the young carers receive has improved significantly… The impact this programme has had on our young carers is incredible.”
As well as working with employers through our Employability Programme, we also work with young carers of ages 16-25, who are currently not in employment, education or training, to help them find their way into the working world. Over a six-week period and with our support, our beneficiaries explore career opportunities that are of interest to them, produce a professional CV, develop their interview skills and identify opportunities for work experience.
Through a combination of the programmes outlined above, we have been able to support a total of 518 young carers this year so far. We expect this figure to rise to over 1000 by the end of 2020. Our work has enormous impact on the life of a young carer, but we cannot do it without the support of our community.