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