Blended-style trial for Health & Wellbeing Course

One evening in December young carers met in Gloucester to celebrate ‘graduating’ GYC’s Caring Counts health and wellbeing course with ice-skating and a meal. 

Caring Counts is offered to young carers at GYC aged 11+. The course covers topics such as: the positives and challenges of being a young carer; exploring Five Ways to Wellbeing to look at different ways to keep the mind and body healthy; the importance of communication and how young carers can speak up for themselves; where to go if they need help; and who is there in their families, school and communities to support them as a young carer.  

The delivery of this course has been impacted by the constraints of covid restrictions and we have had less opportunity to run the course face-to-face over the past 18 months.  We have successfully delivered the course online but have found it more challenging to build connections in the group.  In Autumn 2021, we decided to trail a blended approach, with consecutive face-to-face and virtual zoom sessions.  This enabled us to bring the young people together first, which really helped them to bond and get to know the staff and each other before we met again on Zoom.    We were also able to give them a pack of snacks and resources for the online sessions.  

The course content is delivered interactively with plenty of time for games, activities (such as making stress balls from birdseed and balloons) and nice food.  We find sitting and eating together a really important part of our session and miss this when we are online! For the zoom delivery, we have a shorter session and use the techniques we have picked up from virtual groups over the past 18 months including games and ensuring young people are given the same materials for the activities. 

The young carers in our latest cohort were given a choice as to what they wanted to do for the trip which is the culmination of the course.  They unanimously decided that ice skating was the best idea, and we had a brilliant evening before Christmas learning to skate at Gloucester Quays.   The young carers had supported each other so well throughout the course it was touching to see them helping each other on the ice too!   

‘I really enjoyed meeting the other young carers and the staff, making friends, and knowing that I wasn’t the only one with a parent who needs help.  Ice skating was scary but fun at the same’ Annaleeza, 12 

70 young carers enjoy a festive party with a difference

The team at GYC were determined to find a Christmas activity where we could safely get young carers together to have a break and celebrate the festive season. 

Our youth work team found the solution – outdoor lazer tag!  We were overwhelmed with the positive response from families wanting their children to take part in this activity.  In the end, we ran three sessions over two weekends, with 70 young and young adult carers aged between 8 and 24 getting involved alongside staff and volunteers.  

We were lucky with the weather for both days as we gathered together in the Forest of Dean ready for action.  Once the camouflage face paint went on, we were kitted up with our equipment, and the teams soon competed against each other to see who would become the ultimate champions – with a range of different games played. It was a true team-building opportunity, with different sides employing tactics, such as a surprise attack from the gully, hiding in shelters, and distracting with smoke bombs!  It was great to see the children and young people spending hours running about in the fresh air and clearly having fun. The sessions gave young and young adult carers a chance to bond, build friendships, and let off some steam in the great outdoors.   

Everyone went home tired, muddy, happy and with a selection box!  

We look forward to running more outdoor activities with young carers in the coming year.  

Do something exciting for YOU in 2022…

Try something new in 2022 – sign up to one of our exhilarating skydives or exciting UK challenges this year. Raise money for GYC and feel GREAT this year.

Last year our fantastic fundraisers really braved the elements to raise money for young carers in the county. From firewalking, parachute jumping, running races in all weather and climbing mountains, nothing stopped our supporters in their pursuit to raise vital funds for our charity. So why not be inspired and take a look at our exciting range of fundraising challenges to see what you could do in 2022…

Rotary donation helps young carers stay connected

With home learning, Zoom meetups and online activities becoming part of our everyday lives since March 2020, the need for reliable technology within the home has never been greater than in the last 18months. We were very pleased to receive 10 reconditioned laptops kindly provided by DXC Technology, which had been refreshed and restored before being distributed through the Rotary in the Rissingtons where employee Peter Brown is a member.  We were then able to distribute the equipment to young carers and their families who were most in need of this help.

Laura Ritchings, GYC Youth Development worker said “Being able to provide such practical and essential support to some of our more vulnerable families at this difficult time has been amazing. When everyone is feeling so isolated we have been able to provide necessary equipment and support to help our families find and make some valuable connections.”

Sue Auld from the Fundraising Team met the Rotarians in Autumn to take delivery of the laptops.

Volunteer Spotlight – Matt Clifford Trustee

Why did you decide to volunteer for GYC?

I’ve always been keen on giving back to the community where I can. I’ve done a lot of fundraising over recent years but never really seen the direct outputs of the money raised. The opportunity for Treasurer came about at just the right time for me and gave me the chance to put my expertise in accountancy to good use. My partner has always been extremely passionate about working with children and providing them with the opportunities they deserve. With all of this combined, I felt that GYC was the perfect place for me to get involved and the perfect time too. I’ve certainly not been disappointed since joining!

What kind of things do you get involved with?

My trustee role means I am the finance expert on the Board, helping to guide the charity with all things money-related and the regulations that come with it. I also help out where I can on activity days which involved ensuring all of the carers are accounted for, they’re comfortable with everything and everyone they are going to be working with during the day and they have a great time doing whatever activity they are registered for.

How does volunteering make you feel?

It gives me a massive sense of satisfaction knowing that I’ve put my expertise to good use, ensuring the charity is best placed moving forwards financially. Spending the activity days with the carers really inspires me too, knowing that they have a lot more to deal with in life than I do but I’m helping them to just be themselves for those few hours.

What would you say to anyone else thinking about volunteering with GYC?

Just do it. The volunteering days always make me want to come back for more. The GYC staff are so passionate and it really does show, it’s so infectious! The carers are the best part of it though, they are so resilient and engaging. The days fly by but you really do get so much satisfaction from it all. I’d never been a trustee before so I was very nervous about taking on the role but I believed in my abilities and the rest of the Board were so welcoming. It’s also a great opportunity to meet more people from a variety of different backgrounds.

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

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. 

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.