As revealed in Resi 2, the second Team v campaign was “#DoYouCare” and it had two main aims: 1) raising awareness about the struggles faced by young carers, and 2) raise awareness about the services and support young carers can receive. In case you don’t remember, young carers are “children and young people under the age of 18 who provide regular and ongoing care and/or emotional support to a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled, or misuses substances.”
#DoYouCare ran from the 19th of January till the 9th of March, and as Team v Leader, I had various targets to achieve: handing out leaflets, recruiting volunteers, getting in contact with politicians, getting the campaign on press, running workshops in schools/colleges, preparing and delivering creative activities, raising awareness through social media… I must admit I’m not a great fan of targets, not only as a Team v Leader, but in life in general. However, for this campaign they were incredibly useful, because deciding what to do and how to do it was so much easier than with the first campaign, #BeyondFood. The targets acted as guidelines to me, even if I couldn’t achieve all of them.
For instance, I didn’t recruit any volunteers and I ran the campaign on my own, just because I wanted to do so. I also couldn’t get my story on press, nor did I try much to be honest. And I got in contact with my local MP about the campaign, though I never heard back. I suppose I should have tried following up, but I wasn’t very interested in doing so. For the next campaign, as my co-ordinator said, I should try to get out of my comfort zone, mainly when comes to politicians and press. I can phone and email, but the idea of actually meeting politicians or appearing on newspapers or on the radio scares me a bit, which is why I probably don’t feel bothered enough to follow up after the first communication is made.
So, what did I actually do for this campaign?
Well, on the one hand, I run two workshops in my college, Seevic, for BTEC Health and Social Care students. Both workshops were about young carers. I began the sessions with an icebreaker: asking everyone to present themselves saying their name with a characteristic adjective that started with the same letter as their name. Then, I asked everyone if they knew what “young carers” were, creating a short discussion. Afterwards, I showed them the video of the campaign and I ran a quiz about facts, figures and statistics on young carers, in order to illustrate better the struggles and daily life of young carers.
Next, I delivered a powerpoint with more information about young carers, including a formal definition, typical tasks they do and the impact on their lives. Subsequently, I asked the students to draw and create their own young carers by groups, adding information such as age, gender, reason why they are carers, who they look after, impact on their lives… Later, I asked everyone to write in a post-tick note why they think someone would decide to take on caring responsibilities, sticking what they wrote in a cardboard. And finally, I gave out leaflets of the campaign and showed websites and resources young carers can access for support.
Cardboard with the post-tick notes from both of the awareness workshops.
Three drawings from the activity “create your own young carer” from the second workshop I did.
Another two drawings from the activity “create your own young carer” from the first workshop I did.
Both awareness workshops went very good. I sparked interesting discussions and I heard thought-provoking opinions from participants, which were elaborated very well with strong arguments. Also, the students seemed engaged in the activities, as you can see by the pictures above with the fantastic drawings they did (even if asked only for a ginger bread man!). Moreover, the teacher who was present in both of the sessions said that they were informative and interesting. She gave me positive feedback as well on how I managed the session, which made me very happy.
On the other hand, I also ran a creative writing workshop during the campaign, but this one was for young carers not for students, and I did it to motivate and inspire them, instead of doing it to raise awareness. I spent the first four weeks of the campaign getting in contact with local young carers projects in my community, with very poor responses. They either didn’t get back to me or didn’t understand what I said on the phone. It was horrible. That’s why I don’t like making phone calls, and I rather hide behind emails. However, with emails, communications are much slower, and after the first campaign, I learnt I can’t rely on them.
Fortunately, three weeks before the campaign ended, I found a local project that showed interest in the campaign and in my creative event. Hence they gave me the opportunity to visit them and run the event during one of their sessions with young carers, who were secondary school students. I had to take the train to get to that session, visiting a town in which I had never been before, nearly losing myself (god bless my phone’s GPS!). Nevertheless, I made it to the session without major problems, which was ran in a primary school of the town.
On the train on my way to visit the young carers project.
My event consisted of a creative writing workshop, in which I talked about the benefits of writing, I gave tricks on how to write stories and poems, and I asked questions and created discussions about reading and fictional characters. On top of all, I spoke about how writing can help to deal with struggles we face in our lives, to have a better mental health and positive emotional wellbeing. That was the aim of the workshops. When I learnt about the difficulties young carers face during the training sessions of Resi 2, I felt a lot of empathy with them, because I have been in a similar situation and I know that it can be stressful and distressing. Hence when deciding what type of activities would help, I thought about what type of activities help me to maintain a positive emotional wellbeing and a good mental health. And writing is the main one.
The workshop was good, I managed to keep the participants engaged, and I even found that some of the young carers had also a big passion for writing and reading too. After my event finished, I interviewed one of the session workers. Her name was Charlotte, and we talked about my event and the project she works for. About the workshop, she said that it was good because “creative writing gives young carers another way of expressing themselves”. She also revealed that she was a young carer herself, so she knew that sometimes you can feel alone and when you write, “your feelings just flow easily”.
When comes to the project, I asked Charlotte what type of services they run. The project is part of an organisation called SCAFT (Support Carers and Families Together), which offers support to both adult and young carers to “relieve the social, emotional, mental, physical and educational needs of Carers and their families through the provision of support, person and group centred interventions, advice, guidance and sign posting to other services as appropriate”. With young carers particularly, they run sessions every 2 weeks and, sometimes day out activities during holidays, to allow them to relax and unwind, because sometimes everything can bottle up for them.
SCAFT has two different groups with young carers: one for primary schoolers and another one for secondary schoolers. The primary school one has attendees that are from 5 to 14 years old, and the secondary school one has attendees that are 14+. The sessions are sometimes structured with determined activities, and other times they are simply free time in which carers can do whatever they want. Charlotte told me that it is more difficult to provide engaging activities for secondary schoolers than for primary schoolers, because primary schoolers can just be entertained with running around, while secondary schoolers need more interesting activities.
Apart from running these sessions, SCAFT also helps young carers by offering counselling through informal meetings, and they work closely with local schools to raise awareness about their services and help as many young carers as possible. Charlotte told me that she believes that young carers, benefit from the project, not only because they have time to relax, but also because during the sessions they can build each other, they can be themselves and they realise other people are going through a similar situations. She used to attend the project herself, and now she works there as a way of giving back.
Charlotte with one of the leaflets of the campaign.
So, my visit and creative event went pretty good! And apart from the awareness workshops, I didn’t do much more for the #DoYouCare campaign, except for having a meeting with the head of students services of my college and discussing the support available for students that are young carers. I must admit that even if I did the majority of things I was supposed to do, I feel like if I didn’t do enough in this campaign. I had seven weeks to make wonders, but the majority of my activities occurred in the last few weeks. I could have done so much more to be honest, but I didn’t. Probably because I was too stressed and worried with college exams, student finance applications, and other personal issues. Not an excuse, but still. I didn’t work very hard compared to the first campaign, in which I didn’t do great things neither but I put much more effort. Maybe it is because faced more struggles, who knows?
Anyways, the past is done and it can’t be changed. So all I can do is learn from the experience and apply what I learn for the next campaign, which is starting soon! Resi 3 is coming in just a week, and I can’t be more excited!
Sharing my experiences, Emilie H. Featherington 🙂 ❤