Being a GYC volunteer and what it means to me – spotlight on Alick Miskin.
When my mate Mandy (who works for GYC) heard I was thinking of retiring, she came to me with the idea that I should do some volunteering. Knowing my own children were only about ten years older than most young carers (YCs) and that I’d a background of working with children, she thought (rightly) I’d enjoy it. Most of my initial work was providing volunteer transport – taking YCs off to group sessions and taking them home afterwards. Gradually as I got to know staff and children better, I’d help at the start of sessions until everyone arrived and chat a lot to the children while driving them about. Sometimes I’d collect up to four older children who’d never met, going to a session with others they’d also never met, but by the time they’d got there they’d become a team and their self-confidence infected those who’d already arrived.
In many cases I got to know their parents/carers too. I got to see how responsible many YCs felt for their parents/carers’ or a sibling’s wellbeing.
In the year before Covid I also took on a long term 1:1 mentoring role, with the help of the Young Adult Carer Development Worker; this was of 17-year-old Morgan who despite having been intermittently in care, never having been on a train and only having travelled outside Gloucestershire once in his life, had already got a fistful of decent GCSEs. But he felt he couldn’t leave his mum for whom he was the sole carer to go away to university. Egged on at every stage by his YAC worker and me, we encouraged him to take his first ever train trip (to Stroud, where I met him), evaluate what subject he really wanted to study and which universities to apply to. From being firm about only wanting to study religion at Gloucestershire Uni, we ended up visiting Southampton, Exeter, Reading, Bristol and Cardiff Unis and working out that his true passion was really either Psychology or English Literature. Finally, he settled on English Lit at Cardiff and, perhaps surprising everyone (but not himself), he got in and in September 2019 I took him and his student starter living kit (funded through GYC bursary) to his new hall of residence. And, despite Covid, he’s still there, now in his 2nd year.
In the last year, with Covid, all this (for me) has stopped; and I miss it.
If you would like to find out more about becoming a volunteer for Gloucestershire Young Carers, please get in touch with Sue Auld by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01452 733060. We need help with administration, fundraising and lots more.