As with every other organisation Gloucestershire Young Carers is in a rapid development phase and things are changing by the day.
We have put in place a number of ways in which we can keep connected with the most vulnerable young people in our society – young carers. Here are just a few of things we have implemented:
a. The office is now closed with staff working remotely from home. The telephone has been diverted and is staffed 9 – 4, Monday to Friday with answerphone facility.
b. All face to face services have been postponed until further notice
c. Digital solutions are rapidly emerging to continue group support for young carers – our young adult carer Skype Pictionary was a great success and we are running things like cookery sessions and quizes.
d. Assessments are continuing via video or telephone
e. Identification of the most vulnerable families is under way with a plan to attach named workers to keep in regular contact
f. There is a big drive to increase information, advice and guidance via all our social media channels
g. All staff are being empowered to respond to callers with info on emerging community support in their neighbourhoods – underpinned by safeguarding measures
h. We are continuing our excellent contact with schools – sharing info on the most vulnerable
i. We are examining the impact on fundraising due to cancellation of events and challenges through social distancing and have received some great support
In the short term we are hoping that through our work with schools we can ensure that the most vulnerable young carers will access support. There will undoubtedly be those who slip through the net. Our immediate concerns are for those who are sole carers, who live with a parent experiencing mental illness and/or substance misuse, who live in single parent households, and/or where there are safeguarding concerns. We expect mental illness of adults and children to increase adding pressures on young carers.
In the medium term our concerns are around increasing domestic abuse. In some ways the medium term may be worse as we re-adjust to our new ways of living and accessing support. Safeguarding, safeguarding, safeguarding! The impact of isolation and prevalence of the virus will have a significant effect on young carers.
On a more positive note we expect to have developed a range of services that can be delivered remotely and the increase in volunteer help may be better coordinated. Children will need advice on how to get help however this will need to be approached without driving fear.
In respect of the organisation we will face enormous challenges in maintaining income via our fundraising efforts and this will inevitably impact on service delivery.
Our staff will develop amazing skills in new technology which may be of benefit in the long run.
The incredible wealth of emerging community support is heart-warming and inspirational.