Caring Counts Online – GYC’s wellbeing course goes digital

Caring Counts is a wellbeing course offered to all young carers aged 11+ who are known to GYC.  The course focusses on what it means to be a young carer, how caring can impact your day-to-day life, knowing your rights and who is there to support you, celebrating your strengths and understanding what you can and can’t control. A central theme is on developing tools and techniques to look after your ‘whole-self health’ based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing (Connect, Be Active, Keep Learning, Give, Take Notice).    

In March 2020 we sadly had to cancel our planned Caring Counts course for sibling young carers as the COVID restrictions were announced. We spent the summer adapting quickly to the changes and limitations across our whole service delivery and thinking through and testing how we could best work with young people online. By September we were becoming experts in online engagement and felt it was the right time to adapt our Caring Counts course as it became clear that a winter lockdown may be on the cards. We piloted our Sibling Carer Online Caring Counts course with 4 zoom sessions in October. One thing we had already learned to be effective was to send actual packs of snacks and resources to the young carers homes each week in preparation for the session. This allowed the young people all to have the same materials and treats and help to create group cohesion.   

Susan Wright, Development Worker (Partnerships & Participation), relates how ‘the biggest challenge of delivering the course online was the new technology and how to build group dynamic, trust and relationships in this new format with only faces on a screen. The biggest positive was that those who took part really valued the connections they built up over the four sessions, and we were impressed at how ready they were to contribute to group discussions’. ‘The funniest thing we tried was getting them all to make stress balls, I had sent out balloons, bird seed and all the components but they had to rope family members in to help them with their creations as we could not be hands-on! Hopefully not too much mess was made in the process!’

Our second Caring Counts Online course starts on Monday 1st February and is for young carers aged 12. We are looking forward to getting to know the new cohort and trying out some new ideas to make the course fun, social and interactive. For those young people who may not feel confident with using zoom or want to know more about the course we offer introductory 1:1 zoom sessions prior to the course start date.