Respite groups are back despite challenges

We are pleased to report that face-to-face young carers groups are now back running in some areas of the county, despite some significant challenges due to the pandemic.

Respite groups are a key part of our service delivery and offer young carers opportunities to let off steam, meet other young carers, have time away from their responsibilities at home and enjoy fun activities.  

We chatted to Laura, Development Worker – Youth Work at GYC to find out more…

What have been the main challenges in restarting face to face respite groups this term?

We are so excited to be able to offer face to face group sessions – it’s been hard not to rush into setting everything up too quickly.  Even though we really want them to happen we must make sure it is as safe as possible to do so.  In these uncertain times, we need to make sure as many precautions are in place before we put a group of young people from across an area altogether, mixing social and school bubbles.  Many young carers have told us they want to restart sessions, but they have concerns about their family and the possibility of passing on infections.

How does it feel for you to see the groups up and running again?

Amazing!  It’s been so long since we were able to run sessions, I’ve missed all of the young carers!  I know they’ve missed seeing each other and the chance to meet and offload especially as there have been many struggles at home.  The sessions that have run so far have been young carers running around, playing and having fun, as it should be.

How have young carers responded to be able to attend group again?

For the most part, they’ve been keen to get back to meeting up and seeing everyone again.  Some young carers that are struggling with getting back to meeting with others and mixing, have needed some additional support and encouragement and only when they feel the time is right will they access the sessions again.  Those that we’ve seen already have responded positively to meeting new friends as well as catching up with old friends.

In the light of the current increasing COVID infections in Gloucestershire, how are you maintaining a balance between running groups and keeping young carers and their families safe?

We are continually responding to the current changes and are grateful to the families already returning for being so understanding and supportive.  This is a difficult time for everyone.  The need for support for many people is greater now, young carers, in particular, have got to balance their role as a carer and their concern for their families while trying to return to enjoying being a young person, and spending time with friends.  We are also trying to find a balance, wanting to provide an opportunity for young carers to get the respite and support they need in a safe environment that does not greatly increase the risk of passing on Covid.  Although we are starting small, we are hoping to increase our delivery when it is safe for all involved to do so.