What is the initiative?
Out of Hours Family Work
Who runs it?
Blackpool Carers’ Centre, a Network Partner of Carers Trust
Who does it benefit?
Young carers (aged 5 to 18) and their families, living in Blackpool, with a focus on isolated families who would not normally access services
What does it do?
The Out of Hours project aims to provide a holistic package of support for young carers and their families at times that suit them, which may be outside the existing 9 to 5 service. Young carers and their families are offered one-to-one support, signposting, advocacy and fun activities for the whole family.
When did it start?
Why was it started?
Blackpool Young Carers had been successfully supporting young carers for a number of years, but staff were concerned that in some cases, unstable and demanding home lives made it difficult for young carers to experience the types of changes they really needed. This was particularly a problem in the most isolated families (such as those with substance misuse issues) who often lacked trust in statutory services.
Staff found that if they invited families to outings, they stood a good chance of getting to talk to them and to understand what was going on in the whole family. From there the service could work out whether there was additional help they could find for the family to reduce the pressure on the young carer. Based on this, the service developed a model where they slowly built up trusting relationships with families before helping them access specialist services to meet their own needs.
In the course of this work, Blackpool Young Carers found that trying to fit assessments and other family work around normal office hours didn’t always work, especially as the quality of assessments tended to be better when all members of the household were able to be present. In addition, experience showed that a lot of crises experienced in families happened outside normal business hours. Support Workers realised that being able to intervene quickly when a problem occurred could prevent it from escalating, reducing the overall negative impact on the family and therefore the amount of work that needed to be done. Staff therefore felt that extending existing services beyond normal office hours would improve the support they were able to offer to young carers and their families.
What are the aims and objectives?
- Increase the resilience of young carers under the age of 18 who are in excessive or harmful caring roles
- Increase the involvement of statutory and other agencies in reducing the amount of excessive or harmful caring undertaken by young carers under the age of 18
- Increase the involvement of extended family and other networks in reducing excessive or harmful caring roles
- Increase knowledge, skills and resources available to the sector in order to reduce the amount of excessive or harmful caring undertaken by young carers
- Allow young carers to have the same experiences and life-chances as other young people and create family memories
- Provide support to young carers and their families during evenings and weekends
- Provide occasional trips and activities during evenings and weekends
- Provide short courses on mental health, substance misuse, first aid and sexual health
- Work within locality teams and develop links with local agencies
- Link to hospital outreach teams and develop links with adult carers’ health worker and psychiatric and substance misuse teams
- Use existing links with disease specific groups for referrals and signposting
- Provide intensive support to the whole family by signposting to other services and using Common Assessment Framework (CAF) to ensure that the young carer is not dealt with in isolation
- Provide specific support to other family members including siblings and those living in the house
- Develop a resource pack and literature for weekend activities
- Share good practice with other agencies, locally, regionally and nationally
How is it funded?
The service received £44,000 from the Innovation Fund from Carers Trust, and £90,000 over three years from The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to help carers of parents with mental health or substance misuse issues. In addition, small pots of funding are sought from various community funds in order to pay for trips and activities, and strong relationships with local businesses mean the service often receives donations in kind to help with activities.
What has it achieved?
“[The project has] opened doors for us and has given us access to support we have not previously been able to receive.” (Family member)
“Evening and weekend support was ideal for Arnie and Ben as it was a time when they were often cooped up in the house. There were already a number of services supporting their mother but it was recognised that she too was isolated and would benefit from some social interaction with others. As well as individual support for the boys, they all attended a family trip organised by the centre which allowed them to socialise with other young carers and their families thus increasing the entire family’s support network.” (Support Worker)
The service currently works with approximately 20 families, particularly those that lack a strong social support network, those that are new to the area and those that have suffered from domestic violence. Some of these families require intensive support.
Whole-family working is the approach taken. CAFs are used to involve a wide range of services and to reduce inappropriate caring. Referrals have been made to statutory mental health and substance misuse teams as needed, and families have been enabled to outline areas where they need additional support and access support from a wider range of agencies.
Following the success of the Out of Hours Family Work, Blackpool Carers’ Centre is planning to widen the hours offered to carers of other ages, across the service. This will ensure that working carers and those unable to access services during the day are not excluded.
How have carers have been involved in planning and delivering this work?
Young carers’ views and input are sought on an ongoing basis - both formally and informally - using various methods including online feedback forms, a fortnightly consultation group run by Blackpool Young Carers and smaller groups focusing on particular issues or activities, as well as regular conversations with individual carers and their families.
As a result of this work, Blackpool Young Carers has achieved a Hear By Right Award from the National Youth Agency at Level 4: Silver, and are currently working toward the Gold level. The Hear by Right Award Scheme measures an organisation’s commitment to taking the voice of young people seriously and putting participation at the heart of service delivery and development.
Setting up a project like this?