What is the initiative?
Who runs it?
Barnet Young Carers And Siblings (BYCAS), the young carers service at Barnet Carers Centre, a Network Partner of Carers Trust
Who does it benefit?
Children aged 5 to 17 living in the London borough of Barnet who are affected by a family member’s substance misuse, and other members of their family
What does it do?
Time4Us identifies and supports young people with a parent who is misusing drugs or alcohol. Through group activities and one-to-one meetings with a support worker, the project gives young people time out from their home life, a chance to talk about their problems, the opportunity to make friends and a place to access information, advice, advocacy and support in accessing other services. The project also supports the wider family by providing information and support to parents to access other available services.
When did it start?
Why was it started?
The topic of substance misuse within families initially became a focus for the council in 2006 as a result of the reports ‘Bottling it up’ (Turning Point, 2006) and ‘Hidden Harm’ (Gruer, 2003), which showed the significant effect that drug and alcohol use in the family can have on young people. That same year, Barnet Drug and Alcohol Team (DAAT) estimated that between 800 and 2000 children in Barnet could be affected by a family member's substance misuse. Barnet’s Young People Drug and Alcohol Group was keen to find out what support existed for young people affected by a family member's substance misuse. Through Barnet DAAT, the group commissioned a piece of research which found that little was known about these young people and that no support services existed for them.
This lack of support and the potential high number of young people affected by drug and alcohol use in the family prompted the council to set up a steering group - which included Barnet Young Carers and Siblings (BYCAS) - to look at what could be done. The steering group decided that BYCAS was the most appropriate service to lead on developing support for young people affected by substance misuse in their family and Time4Us was established.
What are the aims and objectives?
- Improve the lives of young people and families affected by substance misuse
- Increase the number of referrals to the project of children of parents who misuse substances
- Increase the positive experiences of children of parents who misuse substances
- Raise awareness amongst professionals of the affect substance misuse can have on children
How is it funded?
Initially, Time4Us was jointly funded by the local authority (through the Children and Young People Drug and Alcohol Commissioning Group) and Children’s Fund (a voluntary organisation). Since November 2011, the council has provided the all the funding (£40,600) through its early intervention and prevention work. These monies pays for a part-time one-to-one worker, counselling, individual activities, group activities and a small proportion of the Carers Centre’s management and overhead costs.
What has it achieved?
“Both children seem happy and contented with all the staff, and BYCAS has played a part in helping to stabilise the family unit.” (Parent)
The results of a BYCAS members and parents evaluation carried out in May 2011 showed that BYCAS has helped young carers in the following ways:
- 80% get out and about more.
- 70% said that they have made more friends.
- 59% said that they feel more confident.
- 25% said that they feel safer.
Parents of young people registered with Time4Us have said that it has been really useful for their children to have the support of the BYCAS Substance Misuse Officer and to be able to take part in activities which they feel have increased the children’s confidence.
Initially Time4Us supported 10 young people, but the project has grown over time through promotion with other services, and a total of 81 young people have been registered since the project began.
In quarter one of 2011/12, Time4Us provided support (including one-to-one support, group activities and counselling) to 41 young people. During the quarter, 18 young people experienced positive activities through group outings and 19 Time4Us members also regularly attended other BYCAS clubs.
In addition to group activities, Time4Us has also help to find funding for individual activities for members, including horse riding, football, dance classes and a gardening project.
Time4Us also provided support to 28 parents in quarter one of 2011/12, which included liaison with drug or alcohol services, welfare benefits advice and one-to-one support.
Referrals from other agencies have increased over time, and the percentage of referrals from adult substance misuse services has increased from 2% to 10%. BYCAS has worked with partners to build up relationships so they understand the services provided and are encouraged to refer young people to Time4Us when there is a family member who misuses drugs or alcohol.
How have young carers and their families been involved in planning and delivering this work?
BYCAS runs a monthly forum known as ‘BYCAS Chat’, where young carers and siblings are invited to share their views and give feedback on all aspects of the service. Feedback forms are also regularly used to collect input and ideas for group sessions and activities.
Setting up a project like this?