KidsTime

Here in Gloucestershire we are really excited that we have started running KidsTime workshops (something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time) and we just wanted to share how the experience has been so far for us at Gloucestershire Young Carers.

After weeks of planning, recruiting facilitators and volunteers, looking for a suitable venue and meeting new families we welcomed our first four families through the doors in September.  We have had to keep our numbers low at the moment, as we want to make sure everyone is safe with rates of covid rising again in our area.  Everyone (including the staff) was slightly apprehensive and nervous at the beginning of the workshop, but having addressed the subject of mental illness right at the start, by the time the pizzas arrived all the families were relaxed and connecting; all the children were playing a quick game of hide and seek outside and the parents were really chatting with each other.  By the end of that session the parents were swapping social media details and phone numbers.  It took quite a while for the families to leave that evening as everyone was ‘buzzing’; the children wanted to stay to play with each other and the parents wanted to stay and continue chatting.  By the time we locked up the venue that evening all the staff were exhausted but felt exhilarated!

From the comments we heard in the workshop (a parent voiced to the group that the definition the Mental Health Lead had given to describe mental illness was exactly how she felt and she didn’t know that other people might feel like that too – she thought she was the only one) to the feedback we had at the end, when a parent described the session ‘like a breath of fresh air’ and a child said she ‘enjoyed having fun and making new friends’, we knew that KidsTime was going to have a huge positive impact on these families.

All the families came back for the October workshop looking more relaxed and excited and we managed to get them all singing and playing percussion instruments at the start of the seminar!   It was obvious that the parents had been in regular contact with each other over the last month.  The children came bounding in with special things from home they wanted to show us.    Provision of a volunteer-run creche in an adjoining room significantly improved everyone’s capacity to engage with the session. The whole family watching the video at the end of the session was very powerful with one parent commenting “I’ve realised that the children understand so much more than we think they do – they are all so intelligent.”  From an alternative perspective a child said that “it felt embarrassing watching the film – very cringy to watch things back!”.  By the end of the workshop we felt we had achieved what we had set out to when one parent fed back “We are building a community” and another “Although mental health is a serious topic it is good to have fun”.  The workshop had even inspired a child who exclaimed “This has got me into acting – I now want to go into films & be an actor” …… watch out Hollywood!

Volunteer Spotlight – Judy and Paul

“I was aware of young carers from the outset as I was working for social care and very aware of their issues.

After a couple of years I was approached by one of the trustees with a view to becoming a member of GYC’s management committee and was on the committee for several years during which time I saw an amazing organisation grow and expand to encompass so many different strands.

The staff are all extremely passionate about their work and in raising awareness of the issues facing these young people and I never cease to be surprised by the young people I have met. They are very willing to speak about their issues and encourage their peers to do the same. Although life can be very tough for them they accept it and recognise that they are needed to support the family but enabled to have a life of their own at the same time.

When on the committee, my role was to encourage participation from young people into decision making, attending their Forum meetings, taking ideas back to the committee and encouraging them to send reps to the meetings.

I retired from the committee but am still volunteering. I attend events if there is a GYC stall, in order to raise awareness, I will also drive young people to events if need be although I do not have a regular commitment to do so.

Volunteering makes me feel proud to be part of this unique organisation which has benefitted so many families and has such a specialist knowledge of their needs.

I would urge anyone who is thinking of volunteering with GYC to do so, they will not regret it!”

Judy

“I was, of course, aware of the organisation through Judy’s work on the committee and followed with interest it’s development and growth from its inception to the present day. 

Up until my retirement, much of my work had been involved with young people, particularly in terms of the outcomes of those in the care of the Local Authority.

I have, for the last couple of years, covid period excepted, been driving young carers to and from a youth club evening in Stroud and sometimes to and from other events. It has been a pleasure and a privilege chatting to these exceptional young people on our weekly journeys and long may it continue!”

Paul

Positive start to LSE Young Carers’ Research

In July we held the first focus group for researchers from the London School of Economics to talk to young carers in Gloucestershire about their lived experience of accessing support as a young carer.   The first group was with young adults aged 16-24 with a range of different caring roles.

The session explored what kind of services and support the young adult carers felt had benefitted them.  It also looked at what barriers there are in accessing support and what they felt would be a ‘dream service’. We had a successful session and staff and researchers were impressed at how much the young adult carers were able to be open and share their experiences. 

One of the YACs related how ‘it was great to able to participate and meet loads of new people, I’d love to find out what the results of the research are’

GYC is working as a partner in this research with the LSE alongside Sheffield Young Carers and Durham Family Action. The aim of the study is to find out what support for young carers is helpful, and how it could be made more available and useful.  They also want to learn about any reasons that might prevent people from seeking support. The researchers hope that the findings can be used to improve services and support.

Further focus groups and interviews will take place throughout the summer and autumn.  If you know a young carer who might be interested in taking part in this project, please contact hana@glosyoungcarers.org.uk.  The researchers are also interested in talking to parents of young carers. Get in touch if you would like to be involved.

Half term holiday fun for young carers

Ongoing COVID restrictions have meant GYC has had to be extra creative in planning activities for young carers this summer. Keeping activities outdoors and in big spaces enables us to have fun and give young carers a break whilst keeping risks minimal! Both our recent Sports Day and Willow day were a great success – we ask GYC staff Lin and Sheryl what they were all about!

Hi Lin, tell us about Willow Day….

“It was an opportunity for children to have a go at a craft that is not something they have tried before. Willow grows almost everywhere and is a sustainable material the children could source for themselves if they got the willow weaving bug. They learnt how to prepare the willow for weaving and different weaving techniques. When the children weren’t playing with willow, they had time to run around in the woods and toast marshmallows on a fire”.

What were the highlights of the day?

“Seeing the children engaging with the activity so well and finishing their creations which they proudly took home with them.  Some of the children were so pleased with their ‘makes’ they were going to gift them to their teachers or friends and family. Like with many of our events the children often don’t know each other on arrival but throughout the day it was great to witness them making new friends and plans to keep in touch”.

Sheryl, tell us why you planned a Sports Day…

“It was all about getting the young carers moving, lockdown has stopped a lot of team sports, so we just wanted to get them to blow off steam, get them moving about and having fun”.

What were the highlights?

“We got to visit an incredible sports centre and use their state-of-the-art facilities. Some of the children have never used facilities like this so it was a new experience for them.  One young carer was asked if they’d enjoyed the badminton, and their reply was ‘Enjoyed it?? I LOVED it’. All the young carers had a great day I think it’s something a little different to what GYC has offered before, which meant it appealed to young carers who may not have done an activity with us yet”.

Volunteer spotlight for July – Louisa

“Following a tough year of restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was fantastic to be back working face to face with the young carers for an activity day. In the morning, the group was split into two; half played badminton whilst the others played basketball. As a volunteer I supported with setting up, facilitating the activities and sanitising the equipment afterwards. We then had lunch on the grass followed by playing football in the afternoon. The young carers seemed to get stuck in and enjoy socialising with old friends and new which was great to see. A big thank you to the team at Gloucestershire Young Carers who organised the event, I am looking forward to volunteering at more face-to-face group sessions in the upcoming months!”

If you would like to volunteer for us please get in contact with our Volunteer Co-ordinator Sue today – email sue@glosyoungcarers.org.uk or call 01452 733060.

Young Adult Carers learn to speak with confidence!

Last Thursday, 6 young adult carers attended our “Public speaking, confidence boosting and presentation skills” event.  This was led by inspirational trainer Ore from Speakers Trust– a charity whose mission is ‘training young people to become more effective communicators and use their voices to effect change’.

It was an incredible session full of energy, honesty, laughter and empowerment. The transformation from start to finish in each young person was incredible and by the end so many fears about speaking in public had disappeared.

Many of the participants regularly give their time and energy to help spread awareness of young carers and we are sure that this session will help them to speak with confidence in all areas of their lives, including when telling their stories to help others like themselves.

One of the young adult carers relayed how:

“Ore was the most inspirational person I have met. Her charisma and engagement were phenomenal and her story blew me away”.

A huge thank you to Rotary Club of Gloucester for funding this unique opportunity that will help each young carer’s journey into further education and employment in the future.

Celebrate your special day by raising money for our charity

Celebrate your special day by raising money for our charity, your big or little event could help us to support the YOUNG in young carers.

Asking for donations instead of gifts is an inspirational way to mark a special occasion whether it’s a wedding, anniversary, a birthday, or your retirement.  Whatever the celebration, it’s your day and your friends and family can donate to us as your chosen charity instead of gifts. Set up an online fundraising page (https://www.justgiving.com) or set up a Facebook Fundraiser where your loved ones can send you messages on your special day with their donations.

Teachers get a soaking from students for GYC!

A huge thank you to students from Holmes College from Cleeve School and Sixth Form Centre of Excellence in Cheltenham for their fantastic fundraising efforts for GYC as their chosen charity of the year. Teachers were soaked with icy buckets of water all for a good cause and a yummy cake sale helped to raise a fantastic £150.00 Thanks to everyone for their energy and efforts to fundraise for us and help us support the YOUNG in young carer.

If your school would like to have some fun and fundraise for us get in touch with our Fundraising Manager Sally today on 01452 733060 or email sally@glosyoungcarers.org.uk

Crafty Christmas for Young Carers

Development Manager Hana Gill talks to Project Worker Lin Powell about our crafty plans for young carers this Christmas.

What is happening Lin?

On Sunday 6th December young carers have been invited to take part in a Christmas craft session on Zoom, where they will can get involved in making their own baubles, fairy light jars, festive scratch art and candlelight fun!

Why did you decide to have a craft session for a virtual Christmas event in 2020? 

Last year we held a crafty day at the Pavillion in Cheltenham which was a hit with the young carers. Creativity is good for the soul and your mental health and the best thing is you get to keep whatever you make! We have been doing a lot of crafts in our online zoom sessions and they are popular. It also means that we can send the children the craft materials which is an exciting thing to arrive in the post.

How do you think the young carers will benefit from having packs of craft materials sent to them in the post?  

Wow, everyone likes to get something through the post. It’s like getting an early Christmas present. Also the children will get the same things which will help to unify the group, they can share and compare ideas.

What has been the biggest challenge of online service delivery? 

Keeping things exciting and fun online is a challenge and coming up with new ideas that will work online.  For the Christmas Craft the most difficult thing is making sure that we have enough activity packs for the right people. We can’t physically go shopping for some things which at the moment is tricky and some of it we purchase online, which is  also difficult at the moment as the postal system is on the go slow!   We know it will be worth it when we are all sitting down together making Christmassy things on Dec 6th!  We are really looking forward to resuming face to face groups in 2021 as soon as we are able…

Spirax Sarco get quizzical for GYC

The Steam Business Development team from Spirax Sarco held an online charity quiz which was brilliantly organised by the team and a total triumph. With over 70 attendees all testing their trivia from home through a very impressive online quiz format complete with picture round and a spinning raffle wheel, the fun and interactive evening raised over £1591 for Gloucestershire Young Carers as the teams chosen charity partner.

This has very kindly been match funded by Spirax Sarco so an impressive £3182 raised from the evening. We are so grateful to everyone who helped organise the event and took part. If your company would like to organise a quiz evening or an online fundraising event in aid of GYC, please get in touch with Sally our Fundraising Manager today.