Practice examples of young carers' and young adult carers' breaks
The Young Carers Project
Tower Hamlets Council Open
The Young Carers Project is run by Tower Hamlets Youth Service for young carers aged 8-18 either living or studying in Tower Hamlets. The project was re-launched in Tower Hamlets in 2019 after the previous provision ceased around February 2018.
The project aims to give young carers the opportunity to take a break from the daily responsibilities of being a carer by giving them the opportunity to interact with others facing similar challenges, and taking part in fun activities. The main way this is achieved is through access to weekly respite sessions, activities taking place in the school holidays, access to residential breaks and days out, as well as individual one-to-one support if required.
The weekly sessions are arranged by age group with separate sessions for 8-12-year olds and 13-18-year olds. The young carers are supported to develop their self-esteem and self-confidence through group-based activities and one-to-one support from staff at the sessions. These weekly sessions are planned with the young people and varies depending on their wishes. As a result, the group activities are diverse, including arts and crafts, film making, baking, biking, climbing, and trips to places such as escape rooms. Through ongoing consultations with the young carers, programmes are developed that meet their needs.
Bespoke projects have been developed with external partners which are designed to meet the needs of young carers, drawing on a UK evidence-base. For example, a partnership has been developed with local sports and activity provider, Urban Adventure Base, to encourage young carers to participate in activities that will boost their physical wellbeing, as well as their confidence.
The service has worked in partnership with not-for-profits to pilot participation projects. For example, a short film on young carers is being developed with the charity The Loss Project to encourage the young carers to express themselves creatively as well as to gain media skills which are highly transferable.
The Young Carers Project has an inclusive ethos that means that all young carers, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation, feel comfortable engaging with the service. Tower Hamlets has one of the most diverse populations in the country and the Young Carers Project works with multiple community groups to ensure that young carers from all ethnic groups can access the provision. This has been achieved by reaching out to community navigators who have strong relationships with the local people in different wards. For example, a Somali Link Worker and the Bangladeshi Mental Health Forum helped break down cultural barriers around caring and promote the service to more young carers. A relationship and referral pathway has been developed with the local charity Step Forward who work with LGBTQ+ young people in the borough, increasing these young people’s ability to access our provision. This partnership will include developing workshops to promote good mental well-being.
Since the launch of the project, there have been some significant successes in terms of engagement of young people and raising awareness of young carers amongst professionals across the borough. To raise the awareness of young carers and the service, the team has participated in assemblies in local secondary schools, spoken at a forum of local Designated Safeguarding Leads and run a Professional Learning Event in partnership with The Children’s Society.
A challenge faced by the service has been a lack of transport for young carers as a barrier to accessing the service. Feedback from many families emphasised that providing transport would make it easier for them to get their children involved. A transport contract is essential to make sure that services can reach the most vulnerable young people.
The project has not yet completed a full evaluation. However, both young carers and their parents are encouraged to regularly feedback to staff about their experiences with the services. By adopting this whole-family approach, the service is better able to ensure that the family is receiving the appropriate support for additional services, thus preventing them reaching crisis points.
The service is funded by the local authority through Integrated Children’s Commissioning, with further plans to approach third party funders. One full-time and one part-time member of staff are allocated to the project with youth workers based in Limehouse Youth Centre providing support during sessions.
Budget: £65,500 per year
Website: Young carers: support and advice
Contact: Sorrel Norwood
Youth Development Service - Children, Young People and Family Services
Hull City Council Open
The Hull Young Carers Project was established in its present form in 2018. The aim is to offer tailored support when needed and a variety of wider opportunities for young people with a caring responsibility aged 5 to 18 years. The offer can include:
- an assessment to identify need and to agree a suitable support plan
- one-to-one support
- information, advice and guidance
- weekly fun social peer support groups and holiday activities
- a trusted adult/youth worker to advocate on a young carer’s behalf
- opportunity to become involved in the young-carer-led forum to shape future support for young carers in the City.
The Hull Young Carers Project works in close partnership with universal and targeted services across the City including schools, colleges and Hull University, NHS, Early Help Services, in particular community-based youth services, voluntary organisations and third sector providers. Supportive partnership working and good communication ensures a good knowledge of the wider local offer for young people which young carers can access. It also provides a platform to collectively raise awareness of the issues faced by young carers and the understanding to identify young carers in their own settings. Referrals for support come from a wide range of partners and young people can also self-present at their local youth centre.
Following a referral to the project, a young person will be allocated a young carers worker, who will make an initial assessment to measure the impact the caring role has on the young person’s physical and emotional wellbeing. The voice of the young person is at the heart of this, and if the young person requires tailored support, a personal plan will be agreed. The aim of the plan is to:
- help the young person find the support they need from local services, so that their caring responsibilities do not have a negative impact on their lives
- support young carers to access community-based activities, sports clubs, support groups, youth centres, social groups and health centres
- provide advice and emotional support through short-term interventions
- liaise with schools and colleges so that school-based staff can support their students appropriately
- provide opportunities for young carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities, spend time with other young carers, share experiences, have fun and build positive peer networks.
To date, the Hull Young Carers Project has supported over 200 young people with caring responsibilities. As the project is embedded within the Youth Development Service and an integral part of the broader Early Help offer, the services have the opportunity to work together to ensure young carers receive the right support they need and deserve.
Although it is too early to assess the overall impact of the Hull Young Carers Project, the following feedback has been provided by parents and young people who have accessed support.
I would just like to take this opportunity to thank your staff for everything. You are an invaluable service that deserves some recognition for what you do for the young children who you help feel as important and amazing as others.Parent of a young carer
Carers’ club is a great thing for her because it is a well – deserved treat for everything she puts up with as a young carer. She looks forward to this time on a Tuesday as a way of getting to share her experiences with others who feel the same. After every session Kya is relaxed and happy, which is important in balancing out her stress from a hectic and busy life. Thank for your support.Parent of a young carer
We get to have a break from what we do at home and then we also get to meet up with our friends that we don’t really see.Young carer aged 14 who participates in the weekly young carers’ social session
Sometimes if you need help they (the staff) will be there for you… which is good... so like sometimes if you need help with any homework or any studying that you need help with they’ll be there for you… or whether it be like mental health… like if you have a panic attack or just like… you’re stressed… or worried about something they will be there to help you out with thatYoung carer aged 16 who accessed one-to-one support
Funding: The Project is funded by Hull City Council and the NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group and the core team consists of 3 part time workers and 1 part time project lead.
Contact Miss Micaela Jewitt, Youth and Community Development Worker
Young carers’ break and holiday activities
Sheffield Young Carers Project Open
Sheffield Young Carers is an independent charity that supports young carers aged 8–25 and their families. Their funding is separated into two streams: the first is to work directly with young carers and the second is to work with the cared for person with the overall aim of reducing the impact of caring. The service supports 200 new young carers every year, with each typically offered a year of support.
The service was established in 1997 and is co-produced with the Young Carers Action Group, a voice and influence group who advocate for other young carers, drive internal development from a youth-led perspective and influence policy and service development for young carers locally and nationally.
The project provides a range of services to support young carers including: one-to-one support, group work, holiday activities and support for the cared for person. Holiday activities include whole family trips, for example to the cinema or seaside. The activities are planned by the service and all transport is free. The service applies for family holidays through the Family Holiday Association – this requires significant family project worker time, help with arranging transport, packing and other practical tasks to ensure families are able to take up the break. As well as in-house activities, the service administers a Young Carers Activity Fund of up to £300 per young carer for activities that enable them to have a break from their caring.
In addition, the project is involved in training and awareness work to build capacity of education and health services, as well as other voluntary and statutory services, to identify and support young carers.
The project vision is to work with young carers to make a difference for life, with the four key objectives to:
- put young carers’ participation and voice at the heart of all they do
- use a whole family approach to increase the social inclusion, educational outcomes and emotional and physical wellbeing of young carers
- raise awareness and enable others to identify and support young carers; working in partnership to embed long term change
- continue to improve and innovate whilst maintaining quality, strategic direction and financial stability.
A detailed evaluation was carried out in 2017. The report found that the estimated return on investment was between £1.42 and £1.90 to every £1 and that the benefits had an ongoing effect for families. Benefits included improved family relationships, greater confidence and skills, reduced social isolation and improved wellbeing.
A key lesson learned from this project is the importance of ensuring that, as a young carers’ project, their service is based on youth work principles, i.e. youth workers who work with young carers, rather than a carers’ organisation who work with young people. A second key lesson is the value of a co-produced organisation that is youth-led and where the young carers voices are central and involved in all aspects, from recruitment to training to presentations and strategic developments.
Inclusion is one of the service values and the project supports the diverse range of communities within Sheffield with 20% of referrals from black, Asian and minority ethic (BAME) communities.
User data has been analysed to identify communities that are less well serviced. For example, the service worked with local Roma community organisations to offer support into their community as few referrals were received from this community. The majority of referrals are from key areas of poverty and deprivation in Sheffield; therefore, ensuring the services are free and include paying travel is essential to maintaining engagement across communities.
Funding: The Sheffield Young Carers Project has a range of funders. These include a contract with Sheffield City Council and grants from the National Lottery, BBC Children in Need, Henry Smith Foundation and Paul Hamlyn Foundation, as well as local community fundraising. The service has 17 members of staff and funding is approximately £500k per year.
Contact: Sara Gowen, Managing Director
Sense is a charity that supports children, young people and adults with complex disabilities, including sensory impairments, physical and cognitive impairments, complex medical needs, life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, palliative care, autism and related communication difficulties. Sense extends this support to the whole family, and the sibling and young carer activities are an example of this.
Sense young sibling and carer weekends are annual, two-night activity breaks for siblings and carers, all aged between 5 and 15 and who have a brother or sister with a complex disability. The residential weekends provide a range of ‘challenge activities’ such as canoeing, mountain biking, zipwire, as well as arts, drama and science workshops. Evening entertainment includes film screening, sports day, campfires and discos.
Desired outcomes for young carers are that they will: share experiences, swap stories and make friends; experience achievement and pride as they complete challenge and art activities; have a care-free break; improve their resilience, sense of self wellbeing and the relationship with their sibling.
Across England, 30 young sibling carers are supported each year by two staff members and six skilled and experienced volunteers. An inclusive, supportive and fun environment is created. Volunteers are trained to support the safety and emotional wellbeing of the young siblings – they encourage, inspire and empower them to complete challenge activities and help them navigate the weekend. At times this means being their biggest cheerleader as they scale the zipwire; at other times, hanging back to listen if they talk about worries for their sibling or parent.
The programme is designed to be inclusive to all families. Sense runs a series of projects across the UK, many of which are in ethnically diverse areas. All families get a direct invite and, where possible, a member of staff will follow up with a phone call to encourage participation. Diversity is reflected in marketing materials, and application forms are available in a variety of languages. Families are asked for a contribution for their child to attend, but there is also a bursary scheme available to ensure finances are never a barrier to participation.
Sense has developed bespoke volunteer training and guidance, and ensure a mix of new and experienced volunteers support each weekend. The leaders have significant experience in supporting siblings and running operational services. Siblings are asked to sign up to a code of conduct; ensuring expectations are clear relating to values and behaviours and the atmosphere is inclusive. In addition, families can opt in to share details with other families, enabling peer support to continue beyond the weekend.
Weekends are evaluated, with outcomes from the 2019 weekend including:
- 100% of siblings said they enjoyed the weekend
- 100% of siblings said they made friends over the weekend
- 84% enjoyed having a break from home
- 100% said they felt proud of either completing the challenge activities
- 100% said they felt proud for staying away from home
- 100% said the weekend was great for their wellbeing
- 84% said the weekend was beneficial to their relationship with their brother or sister.
The weekend gives her a great sense of freedom to take part in so many wonderful, adventurous activities a) with children of similar age and comparable home situations and b) without the limitations on her life that a having a severely disabled sibling entail. I know she feels proud of her ability to cope well away from the security of home and she just had masses of fun - which can be in short supply in daily life.
I can't emphasise enough how much she has loved her two weekends with Sense. They've been real life highlights for her and suit her very physical, adventurous, outdoor-loving nature perfectly. There's so much focus - and rightly - on the needs of a disabled child in families - but those of siblings are just as important and can be just as hard to meet.
A sense of 'time out' - for all of us, in our own ways. It's a weekend-long 'valve' that releases a little pressure and helps the air recirculate in family life again. We all had a great time apart, all missed each other, and were all delighted to be back together again on the Sunday eve - full of new stories and a renewed appreciation of how much we love each other and how great it is to have a little time apart every now and then!
The 2019 weekend was filmed by the BBC as part of a Lifeline Appeal on the charity (the sibling’s weekend is shown from 02.58-05.03).
Budget: £8,500 per annum
Funding: The service is funded via charitable income (approximately 80%), and family contributions (approximately 20%)
Contact: Anya Rakoczi, Development Manager
n-compass Young Carers' Hub
n-compass is a not-for-profit organisation that provides carers services in Lancashire, Cheshire East and Rochdale. It offers an all-age, single point of access service in both Cheshire East and Rochdale, working with both adult and young carers. The young carers’ teams work to ensure that young carers between the ages of 5 and 18 are identified and provided with support in their caring role.
Support is provided by a dedicated young carers practitioner. Their role is to:
- listen and help a young carer to think about what would make a difference to them and their family
- introduce them to other young carers whilst taking a break from their caring role at regular groups and activities
- encourage and help them to take a break from their caring role
- give information about the illness or disability of the person they care for
- help them to get advice and support for that person and get in touch with other services
- help them to access support in school.
At n-compass, the young carers practitioner work alongside the adult team. This enables them to work together to provide support for caring families and supports transition between child and adult the services.
In Cheshire East, Young Carers Practitioners conduct a statutory young carers assessment on behalf of Cheshire East Council.
n-compass regularly consults with young carers, parents and other stakeholders to further improve the services offered.
Services in Rochdale were established in 2017 and in Cheshire East in 2018. n-compass supports a minimum of 100 young carers per year in Cheshire East and Rochdale. Its work is supported by seven staff and several volunteers. The service has not yet been evaluated but feedback has been regularly collected. Feedback includes the following quotes:
Thank you for my son’s first group tonight. He was absolutely buzzing when I picked him up, he had a great time and he can’t wait for the next group! Thank you!Parent of young carer
Thank you for attending the meeting at school today with my daughter, it was the first time in 13 years anyone has ever cared about her feelings.Parent of young carer
This service has allowed my pupil to no longer feel isolated and that no-one else understands. He is now engaging in fantastic opportunities and thriving on the care and understanding given.Head teacher, Primary Education
I think the service is amazing, it lets the children be children and not have to worry or be carers. It also lets them make friends. The kids love it and there is always someone there they can talk to.Parent of two young carers
Budget: Funding in Cheshire East is approximately £100,000 per year and in Rochdale is approximately £100,000 per year.
Contact: Dawn Brown, Carers Service Manager – Cheshire East
Free To Be Me
Caring Together Open
Caring Together is a regional charity working in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Norfolk that provides information and advice, runs services in local communities and campaigns for carers’ rights. Caring Together is a network partner of Carers Trust.
Free To Be Me was established in 2017 and is a project that offers inspiring opportunities for children and young people with disabilities, their siblings and young carers from age five.
The project has three elements:
Helps to give stronger family relationships. With practical support from project staff, young carers and their families get the opportunity to take part in organised activities, e.g. visits to the zoo or seaside, alongside other families. Alternatively, families can request support to attend a family event such as a special birthday celebration or graduation. Caring Together have also been able to support families to have a short break together (e.g. going to the local safari park). Each year, the service enables families to attend local pantomimes with other families where there is a child with additional needs, an activity that supports sibling carers. These opportunities help ensure that families can access opportunities that other families may take for granted, but are all the more important to them due to the demands and impact their caring roles have on young carers.
'Make a meal of it'
Provides young people with opportunities to try new things with new people and develop essential life skills. This project is a series of practical sessions focusing on healthy eating, life skills, and planning.
Supports young people to achieve defined goals and aspirations, aiming towards helping them in their wider relationships. This can include supporting young people to access opportunities for personal development based on their individual interests, or enabling them to take part in local activities with the aim of enhancing relationships through shared experiences/interests and/or developing a wider social network.
The project is highly flexible, which means it can cater to the individual needs of young people and their families. An example of this was a care worker accompanying a young carer, her mum and her sister to a university taster day so that the young carer and her mum were able to go to this important event, that they otherwise would not have both been able to attend.
A key lesson learned has been moving from a traditional activity-based approach, with the service organising and running a prescribed number of activities and sessions, to an ‘enabling’ approach. ‘Enabling’ aims to remove barriers to young carers and their families from accessing universal leisure activities. This has included either providing staff as ‘an extra pair of hands’ to support the family, or through practical support (such as support to purchase the uniform for Brownies, or to pay the joining fee for the local gym).
The project has been able to improve access to breaks for a broader range of young people and their families by building relationships with organisations that provide activities, and by raising awareness of the barriers young carers and their families face. As a result, these organisations have opened up other opportunities for young carers and families that they would not otherwise have had. In this way the project can tap into existing and widely available activities, rather than relying on ‘in-house’ activities only. This, in turn, means more families can benefit and the work is more sustainable.
This enabling approach has also resulted in Caring Together increasing its links with community organisations and leisure providers and the project creating more opportunities such as free tickets. This approach has been found to be more cost-effective and, with the same level of resource, the project has increased the number of young people and families who benefit from much needed breaks.
Young carers are involved in shaping the service and the activities they do in a range of ways. These include:
- highlighting the activities they want to be able to do
- saying what they want to achieve from each activity
- feeding back on barriers they face that prevent them taking part in these activities on their own
- influencing the content of any group activities
- influencing the project’s focus from one of pure activity delivery, to one of facilitation, relationship building and activity delivery
- highlighting the importance of them engaging in some activities with other family members, to help them develop more positive family relationships that are not only about their caring role, but are much broader and more developed
- feeding back following their involvement in activities on the difference the activities have made to their lives and wellbeing.
This flexibility of the project has meant young carers who might not otherwise access support from young carers services have been supported in ways that meet their personal needs. For example, a young carer who cares for their parent with alcohol misuse, as well as their brother with a disability, rarely engaged in young carers trips/activities and often missed out on family activities due to the financial impact of their parent’s alcoholism. The service paid for the young carer, their brother and their parents to go bowling. They were also able to offer a care worker to provide additional support to reduce the strain on the parent.
The project has not been formally evaluated yet, but young carers and their families are asked for feedback after activities.
Funding: Free To Be Me is funded via a grant of £100,752 over three years awarded by BBC Children in Need. The service employs one Family Carer Co-ordinator supported by sessional staff, care workers and volunteers on an ad-hoc basis.
Website: Caring Together
Contact: Andy McGowan, Head of Carer Services
Young Carers service
Child Action Northwest (CANW) Open
The Child Action Northwest (CANW), Blackburn with Darwen Young Carers service is part of a not-for-profit carers organisation that was founded in 2003 by carers, for carers.
The service provides help and support to young carers aged 5+ residing within Blackburn with Darwen. Its aim is to reduce the young person’s caring role, to ensure that the family receives timely support, and to move young carers onto Universal Services such as local young people provision, following its intervention.
CANW services include one-to-one support, access to networks of other carers, group support via Facebook and WhatsApp, fortnightly ‘chill out’ nights, advocacy, peer mentors, events and trips out and opportunities for employment, training and volunteering. Training opportunities include self-esteem and confidence and mindfulness workshops as well as topics that can enhance their caring roles such as first aid, fire safety and manual handling. Weekend residential respite breaks are available subject to funding grants. Some young carers may also receive counselling, and families may be referred to other services or receive benefits advice.
The service aims to ensure that the child is looked after from all angles, that they can cope at home and school, and that they feel supported. The service enables young carers to have a voice and will act as their advocate, helping to form a bridge between home and school. Benefits to young carers include no longer feeling they are alone, having someone they can talk to and giving them hope.
The service is regularly evaluated. The Outcome Star tool is used to show 'distance travelled' for each young carer using the service and shows the improvement made.
The service supports people from BAME communities by ensuring that relevant organisations are aware of the service, so that they can discuss the service with these groups. CANW is in regular contact with schools to work towards breaking down any barriers and to ensure that support is available to all families who could benefit from it, including those from BAME communities.
The service is focused on reducing the young carers' caring role by ensuring other services also support the family. Families need to be empowered so that they grow, regardless of them being classed as a young carer. Importantly, the service is about giving young carers a voice and ensuring they are heard.
The service is looking to launch a Young Carers in Schools Project. The aim of this will be to raise awareness amongst staff and pupils about the service available to them, setting up satellite groups within the schools, encouraging schools to become involved in the Young Carers in School Programme, etc.
The service supports 178 young carers, which includes two contracted staff, two sessional staff members and one volunteer.
Budget: Funding is between £67,689 and £69,861 per year from November 2019 to October 2022.
Local authority commissions CANW to run Blackburn with Darwen Young Carers service. In addition, the service relies on funding and donations from local businesses.
Website: CANW’s Young Carers
Contact: Huma Sheikh, Young Carers Manager
Holiday activities, groups and funding sources for young adult carers
Swindon Carers Centre Open
Swindon Carers Centre was established 23 years ago to support young carers, young adult carers, parent carers, and adult carers. The aim is to improve the wellbeing of carers in Swindon,supporting carers carrying out a caring role for persons with a physical or mental health condition, a learning disability or a drug or alcohol dependency and to promote the development of self-help. This will enable carers to have a quality of life alongside their caring role.
Specifically, for young adult carers, it offers holiday activities, term-time groups, a young carer-led forum, access to possible funding to support their own interests or employment, education or training, and general advice relating to caring role.
A team of four support practitioners support over 900 young Carers in Swindon, which includes a support practitioner working solely with young adult carers. Young adult carers are offered a transitions assessment once they turn 17 years old to ensure they continue to receive appropriate support and remain engaged with the young carer service.
Historically, young adult carers tend to decrease in number once they leave school, however, the team is working at various ways to ensure young adult carers continue to be supported, by actively working with local sixth forms and colleges by regularly attending ‘drop-in’ sessions. The team also provides several yearly activities specifically for 15–17 year olds, to ensure this age group remains engaged and supported while transitioning through to adulthood.
Young carers and young adult carers are sent annual questionnaires to provide feedback on the support they have received, and these questionnaires are used to determine the types of support and activities offered.