Organisation: YMCA Cardiff
Provision: Cardiff & Vale Young Carers Project “Time 4 Me”
Contact: Caroline Ryan (Head of Youth & Community)
The aim of the provision is to provide a support service provision for young carers across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, working in partnership with the Support 4 Families Team in Cardiff and Families First in Vale.
Young carers are often unseen and unheard, they are often children & young people 7 to 18 years old who help care for a family member who lives with them. The family member could be experiencing difficulties with one or more of the following: disability, illness, mental health issues and drug and alcohol issues.
Meaning many young carers are unable to interact with friends, are socially isolated and can have some anxiety issues and are taking on adult responsibilities at an early age.
The project offers young carers a number of opportunities such as mentoring and support focusing on health and wellbeing, educational support, support for families of young carers and life skills development for young carers and adult young carers, alongside fun group respite activities to increase social opportunities, meet other young carers and have some fun!
For the Cardiff project, in October 2019, the views of Young Carers who accessed support via the YMCA and their parents were sought on the support that is currently available and their perception of any gaps in provision. This information was collated and presented to Cardiff Council officers to inform decision making. The main areas of deficit in current arrangements were reported as low-level emotional health and wellbeing support, transport, and support for young carers as they transition from childhood to adult life.
In the Vale the project is young person led with several evaluation methods being used to inform future service delivery and activities. We also have a young carers youth forum called AVAH (All Voice Are Heard).
Both projects over the same support services, activities and young carers youth clubs
The project as young person led and they are involved in the design and evaluation of the curriculum of activities and in the evaluation of its impact upon them. We take a holistic approach and ensure young people are true stakeholders.
Young people learn coping strategies to improve their emotional intelligence, socialisation leading to making friendships enabling them to overcome feeling so isolation. They also learn how to become emotionally resilient and confident.
Participants in the project have become empowered as stakeholders of the development of resources and activities. They are free to play an active role in the project and contribute to its success.
The project is totally inclusive and is open to all young people who have a caring role in their family and we ensure we cater for all specific needs, abilities and cultures.
Young people have expressed how they feel about being a young carer via media and animated stories.
Many lessons have been learnt and we have evolved since 2008 through regular consultations with the young carers on the project. We continue to learn and one outcome is identifying more and more ‘hidden’ young carers over these years. We now support over 350 young carers and young adult carers across both local authorities.
Over the last year we have developed a whole family approach and have launched the young carers ID card. Plus developed online approaches to keeping in touch. Benefits include:
- Young Carers/families accessing personalised support
- Young Carers able to fulfil their educational and employment and personal development potential.
- Improved mental and physical wellbeing.
- Reduced isolation through increased social opportunities for young carers and their familie
- Young carers increase confidence, self-esteem and belief in themselves to build resilience
- Improved support at school via drop-in sessions and Carers Champions, improved partnership working between the projects and the schools to offer a wrap-around support to young carer pupils
- Experience and knowledge of young carer’s issues alongside increased knowledge of relevant legislation.
- During the period of the provisions lifetime we have supported several youth work university student placements some of which have resulted in employment.
The service has an active offer for young carers who wish to receive services in Welsh. In addition, the service makes reasonable adjustments to enable young carers who also may have additional needs or impairments to ensure they are able to access services as a young carer. The Service continues to improve identification of young carers and young adult carers, including black Asian and minority ethnic families.
Both projects are commissioned through the local authorities