MYTime Young Carers’ Charity has extended its MYTime@Home provision and launched an online Youth Group.
Executive Director Krista Cartlidge said, “The MYTime@Home offering evolved very naturally during lockdown and responded to the changing needs of our young carers.
“It was evident that the young carers were enjoying the online activities and videos that had been launched through the programme. However, it became clear that they were missing interacting with one another during lockdown and the restraints of their caring responsibilities magnified this need for social engagement and interaction. A survey by the organisation ‘Caring Together’ reported that during lockdown 67% of young carers reported an increase in their caring responsibilities, most having to shield due to vulnerable relatives. The survey also revealed that 80% of young carers were feeling more alone than usual.”
Krista continued, “A positive aspect of Covid-19 is that we needed to increase our direct communications to the young people that we support and so the concept of our Zoom Youth Group Project was born.
“Working closely with Dorset Council, who introduced us directly to the young carers, we were able to invite them to attend the live online Youth Club Group. This has allowed them to build and maintain social connections with one another, whilst also taking part in a fun activity. We initially trialled it in May half term, it was a resounding success and we’ve been running it weekly ever since.
“Youth Group events have been varied and included activities such pizza and cookie making. Ingredients were sent out to the young carers and they then came together online to make together. Other activities have been a writing workshop, a stretching and meditation session and circus skills. We were incredibly fortunate to have the support of track and field Paralympian, Stefanie Read MBE who made a video for us on how to make her homemade cookies.”
One young carer contacted MYTime after her session to say, “Thank you so much for the session today. I’d been having a super rubbish day where I was totally stressed out and not coping but your session had me forgetting all that and got me laughing. It was great fun!”
Krista concluded, “We plan to continue to run our Zoom Youth Groups indefinitely. The project has undoubtedly met a need created by Covid-19, and we anticipate that this need will remain relevant for the foreseeable future. The geographical spread of young carers in Dorset previously prevented the council from being able to organise a weekly face-to-face youth group for them. Our project has, therefore, met long-standing demand in the local authority area of Dorset and seen our provision to young carers increase by 180% when compared to 2019, to date.”
About MYTime Young Carers
MYTime exists to provide young carers of ages 5-25 with the support, opportunities and friendship that every young person deserves.
In the UK, there are an estimated 800,000 young carers, yet only 166,000 are registered as such. This means that the vast majority are facing the challenges of caring for a vulnerable relative without any support from schools or local authorities. It also means that the scale and nature of the challenges young carers face are vastly overlooked, though the reality is that young carers are disadvantaged at every stage of life. It is our aim to help young carers overcome these disadvantages, and to foster a culture which is more aware, inclusive and supportive of young carers.