Festive fundraising food and gift donations come flooding in

We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of local businesses this year with small gifts, chocolate selection boxes, advent calendars and toiletry/cosmetic packs. All of the donations will be distributed to young carers by our team across Gloucestershire in the run up to Christmas at groups, young carer events and home visits.

Kate Moss GYC’s health development worker – ‘I love being able to give a child or family a small gift at Christmas, whether a chocolate selection box, a fidget toy or food hamper, as it feels very special.  ‘Giving’ is one of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing and makes everyone feel good and shows we care.  It’s wonderful to see the look of anticipation and then the massive smile on the face of the child when they receive a gift –  it is a lovely feeling and so worthwhile!  Thank you so much to everyone who donates these items – they make children and families very happy (as well as the GYC staff!)’

We would like to say a huge thank you to Waitrose Cheltenham, Morrisons in Abbeydale, Alexander Burn Funeral Directors, AC plumbing and Co and Tesco in Cirencester for their kindness and generosity this Christmas.

Gloucestershire KidsTime – building a multi-family community for families where a parent experiences mental ill-health

Fun and games are not the first things that most people would think of when it comes to talking about parental mental illness, however, that is a big part of what we aim for at KidsTime*. Creating a family-friendly environment, in which children and parents feel safe to talk together about parental mental illness, provides a setting in which children can build resilience and protect their own mental health.   

We are delighted to announce that we launched our first KidsTime group in Brockworth in September and, listening to feedback from the children and parents who have attended, it’s even better than we thought it would be.  

The workshops kick off with an interactive, mental health learning session for all the parents and children together. Then, whilst the adults gather to talk about parenting when you have a mental illness, the children head off to develop a short drama-based film based on mental health/mental illness. Following a pizza break, the children show their film to the adults, prompting a discussion about the issues raised by the film. 

The children have told us that they enjoyed ‘having fun’ and ‘making new friends’ 

Parents told us: ‘I’ve realised that the children understand so much more than we think they do’; ‘Although mental health is a serious topic it is good to have fun’; ‘We are building a community’; ‘People are really listening to each other’; ‘It was like a breath of fresh air’ 

KidsTime runs monthly in Brockworth. We are able to offer the workshops to ten families across the year.   

*KidsTime was developed and is licensed by Our Time, a charity that campaigns on behalf of and supports children of parents with a mental illness.  

Moore Allen and Innocent raise an incredible £20,000 for GYC as their charity partner

We have been fantastically supported by the team at Moore Allen and Innocent for 2 years. Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic they have been incredible in their unwavering support and efforts to fundraise for us and help us with volunteering, our young carers newsletter and sponsoring a Day at the Lakes for adult young carers this summer. We want to say a massive thank you to all the team for everything they have done for us especially during such difficult times.

Partner at the firm Roy Bowyer said “Moore Allen & Innocent are chartered surveyors and estate agents based in the Cotswold and recently celebrated 175 years serving the community.  Each year they adopt a charity that is local to whom they can work alongside and support both with time and funding.

In December 2019 the firm were pleased to support Gloucestershire Young Carers for 2020.  The year commenced with many grand plans, assistance with the tea and cake stall at the snowdrops event, a robust 175-kilometre ‘conference cycle’ and many others.  Sadly, the pandemic put a stop to many of the planned events and as such we were pleased to extend our support to GYC for another year.  Despite the restricting year, we were fortunate however to make a sizeable financial contribution and assist in the newsletter expenditure. 

With the relaxing of covid, this year has seen considerably more activities to include the ‘big breakfast’, ‘bake-off’, 175 KM sporting weekend that included cycling, swimming, walking, canoeing, horse riding and two 5k runs. More recently we have conducted a successful ‘pop-up’ shop for nearly new clothes and are shortly to mount a race night being held within a local pub.

The whole firm have embraced the charity and have enjoyed a variety of events.  We are keen to ensure that we can this year find £20,000 towards this worthwhile cause.”

If your company would like to work with GYC as their charity of the year please contact our Fundraising Manager Sally Gillespie by emailing sally@glosyoungcarers.org.uk

GYC welcomes Lucy Wilcox to the team

We are really excited to welcome Lucy Wilcox to team GYC as our new Youth Participation Officer. 

Hi Lucy – can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I live in Gloucester (I’m originally from Nottingham) and have a background in education and participation. I was a secondary school teacher for almost ten years and more recently delivered the participation programme at a classical music festival, working with schools and communities over three different counties.

What attracted you to apply for the role of Youth Participation Officer?

The organisation and the people it supports. Working with young people as part of a co-production is something I’m passionate about so when I saw the job, I jumped at the opportunity to apply!

Can you tell me a bit about the job role?

My role is really varied which I love. I work with young carers on a variety of different forums, ensuring young carers have a voice with which to influence services and policies which directly affect them and their families; I deliver the Caring Counts programme to young carers aged 11-16 in which we explore what it means to be a young carer alongside health and wellbeing; I work with schools to delivering training, assemblies and information events, as well as working with other organisations. The exciting thing about participation is that it’s always developing so I’m looking forward to being part of that at GYC.

What have you learned so far?

In the short time I’ve been here I’ve already learnt so much; I’m grateful to the team for facilitating this in being so supportive and welcoming. I’ve gained a deeper understanding of what it means to be a young carer and the different ways in which this can affect their lives through getting to know some of the young carers we work with. I’ve also talked with a lot of people from outside organisations including schools, so I’m learning how we can help schools to support young carers.

What are you looking forward to? 

I’m really looking forward to being part of the growth of Gloucestershire Young Carers, not only in participation but in the organisation as a whole; it’s a really exciting time to have joined. I’m also looking forward to meeting and working with more young carers throughout Gloucestershire.

Volunteer Spotlight – Amber

Amber couldn’t speak more fondly about Gloucestershire Young Carers

Why did you decide to volunteer for GYC?

GYC helped me out tremendously when I was a child. Without their support, I don’t think I would be the person that I am today. They helped me to understand that I was able to achieve everything I wanted to achieve in life, despite my caring role. Therefore, I wanted to help provide the same support for children who were caring for somebody. It feels amazing to be able to make a small difference to any child or families lives. 

What kind of things do you get involved with?

I have been involved with a group that supports families with mental health issues. We laugh, we talk, we play, we act and we eat pizza! It’s such a lovely, caring and open group which gives me the biggest smile. I have also participated in a firewalk, although, this was very nerve-wracking – I faced my fears and felt so proud to have achieved this. I also raised lots of money for GYC which was the best feeling. 

How does volunteering make you feel?

It makes me feel amazing to know that I am making even the slightest difference to somebody’s life. It’s so much fun to get to help out with so many different activities and spend time with such great individuals! I am absolutely loving it. 

What would you say to anybody else thinking about volunteering for GYC? I would say “GO FOR IT!”- you won’t only be part of an amazing team, but you will make such a difference to young peoples lives – more than you will probably ever realise. I know that both the volunteers and staff helped me tremendously as a young carer. It’s a fun, heart-warming and unique experience. 

Respite groups are back despite challenges

We are pleased to report that face-to-face young carers groups are now back running in some areas of the county, despite some significant challenges due to the pandemic.

Respite groups are a key part of our service delivery and offer young carers opportunities to let off steam, meet other young carers, have time away from their responsibilities at home and enjoy fun activities.  

We chatted to Laura, Development Worker – Youth Work at GYC to find out more…

What have been the main challenges in restarting face to face respite groups this term?

We are so excited to be able to offer face to face group sessions – it’s been hard not to rush into setting everything up too quickly.  Even though we really want them to happen we must make sure it is as safe as possible to do so.  In these uncertain times, we need to make sure as many precautions are in place before we put a group of young people from across an area altogether, mixing social and school bubbles.  Many young carers have told us they want to restart sessions, but they have concerns about their family and the possibility of passing on infections.

How does it feel for you to see the groups up and running again?

Amazing!  It’s been so long since we were able to run sessions, I’ve missed all of the young carers!  I know they’ve missed seeing each other and the chance to meet and offload especially as there have been many struggles at home.  The sessions that have run so far have been young carers running around, playing and having fun, as it should be.

How have young carers responded to be able to attend group again?

For the most part, they’ve been keen to get back to meeting up and seeing everyone again.  Some young carers that are struggling with getting back to meeting with others and mixing, have needed some additional support and encouragement and only when they feel the time is right will they access the sessions again.  Those that we’ve seen already have responded positively to meeting new friends as well as catching up with old friends.

In the light of the current increasing COVID infections in Gloucestershire, how are you maintaining a balance between running groups and keeping young carers and their families safe?

We are continually responding to the current changes and are grateful to the families already returning for being so understanding and supportive.  This is a difficult time for everyone.  The need for support for many people is greater now, young carers, in particular, have got to balance their role as a carer and their concern for their families while trying to return to enjoying being a young person, and spending time with friends.  We are also trying to find a balance, wanting to provide an opportunity for young carers to get the respite and support they need in a safe environment that does not greatly increase the risk of passing on Covid.  Although we are starting small, we are hoping to increase our delivery when it is safe for all involved to do so.

Young Carers help us to recruit!

We are really excited to be welcoming Lucy Wilcox into the GYC team this month as a Youth Participation officer. We always ensure that young carers work with us to help recruit new staff.  This is especially important when the staff will be doing direct work with young carers as we are able to see how they work with and respond to a group of young people.

Two young adult carers took part in the formal interview process, which led to a second-round shortlist of the candidates.  The final candidates were invited to run a forum session with a group of five young carers from the Our Voice forum.  The task was to plan an online workshop for teachers.    The young carers responded very well to the session and were able to help us to make a final difficult decision – after lots of discussions!

The young carers get valuable experience of how job interviews work and have their voice and opinions heard in a way that enables them to influence decision making.

Involving young carers in recruitment gives us a different perspective on candidates and they offer unique insights, things we may not have thought of or noticed!

Dan from the forum says:

‘I was honoured to be asked to do such a responsible job.  It influenced my idea of how to present myself in a job interview.  They were all really good in different ways so it was hard to make a final decision.’

Trustees’ Week

This week is Trustees’ Week, now in its 11th year, an annual event to showcase the great work trustees do for charities in the UK.  There are just over 1 million trustees in the UK.

It is important to have a diverse range of skills on a trustee board, having different approaches, skills, and experiences.

Gloucestershire Young Carers trustees play a vital leadership role.  During Trustees’ Week, we wish to celebrate the passion and commitment our trustees bring to our organisation. 

As well as attending regular board meetings and giving a guiding hand they will volunteer at young carer activities. From joining in with sports or having a go at cooking on the barbecue; wearing crazy hairdos to mark Young Carer Action Day; running a half marathon to raise both awareness and much-needed funds for the charity; or getting stuck into packing gifts – they really do like to get involved.  This year so far, our dedicated trustees have donated 51 hours of their time to GYC.

We wish to say a huge ‘Thank you’ to . . .

  • Mathew Waddington, trustee since 2011
  • Paul Winterbotton, trustee since 2014
  • Dave Perry, trustee since 2014
  • Becky Parish, trustee since 2016 (current Chair of Trustees)
  • Amanda Deeks, trustee since 2019
  • Ros Smith, trustee since 2020
  • Pam Gorf, trustee since 2020
  • Matt Clifford, joined as a trustee at the beginning of 2021

We really appreciate all the support you give to us.

It’s no drama as Tesco support our KidsTime programme

Tesco Express in Cirencester kindly answered our plea for children’s dressing up clothes and kits which form an important part of role-playing and acting out in our new KidsTime programme. The workshops are for children and their parents, where a parent has a mental illness and uses drama as a tool to help children and young people feel at ease and share their experiences in a creative way. Our mental health worker Kate Moss said “The drama sessions are a way for children to be able to express themselves and their feelings and make sense of their parent’s mental illness in a safe, relaxing and fun way.  Having these costumes is wonderful and such an invaluable resource.  Costumes are such a fun way to allow children to find their creative expression.  Being in character is a safe and exciting way to explore thoughts, feelings, opinions and experiences, to improve self-confidence, self-esteem and resilience”.

Huge thanks to Melanie and the team from the store for this fantastic support.  If you would like to make a donation in kind to our charity of items or goods contact our Fundraising Manager Sally today by emailing sally@glosyoungcarers.org.uk

Freemasons celebrate support for GYC

It was a pleasure to be able to attend, in person, a community charity celebration event at the Grand Lodge of the Gloucestershire Freemasons in Stroud recently. Our Fundraising Manager Sally joined with representatives from good causes across the county to celebrate the incredible support of the Freemasons for charities this year.  With each charity given chance to share the difference the Masonic Charity Foundation has made to their work, it was an uplifting and inspiring event with many incredible Covid journeys being shared including our own.  We received £12000 in April from the Foundation to help fund young carer respite groups for 2021/2022. One of the main benefits of the groups is the support available from other young carers who understand their situation as well as from the staff and volunteers.   Many young carers have told GYC that this peer support has helped them through difficult challenges and developed into lasting friendships with many of the older young carers still in touch now. Tim Henderson-Ross, Provincial Grand Master for Gloucestershire, said: ‘Our care for our children is a sacred trust but when necessity reverses that relationship and the children look after the parents they deserve all the support we can give them.’