In the words of the carers we support: Bright Futures gives confidence, coping strategies, and a voice to young adult carers (YAC's), and reduces the negative impacts of caring. One YAC says "no one cared about me at all, whatsoever, only Bright Futures and my Transitions worker" and we do care.
Who we are: the project works with 16-25 year olds who have someone in the household who have physical or mental ill health, disability, domestic abuse or substance misuse. There are four transitions workers, each have their own area, covering the whole of Devon. Since 2012 when the project started we have identified over 750 YAC's, and worked with 569 on a 1-1 basis.
What we do: we make a difference in lots of ways, but they all come back to the fact that we are completely relationship focused. We build great relationships with our YAC's so we can really get to the bottom of what they need, and we work with other charities and statutory services to fill gaps and ensure the families get the support they should. We all have a good knowledge of agencies in our area, so we can signpost, provide specific training and peer support groups and be a shoulder to cry on.
COVID 19: we have adapted our service but are still very much supporting our YAC's. We have been providing online support and training, and talking to our YAC's individually and in group chats. We have managed to run craft classes, skincare classes and exercise sessions all with the power of Facebook and Zoom which has maintained the cohesiveness of our Bright Futures group. With the virus has come increased domestic abuse, a decrease in mental wellness, and often more difficulty accessing support, so we are actually as busy as we have been previously, just providing the support in different ways to suit each of our YAC's. The families we support often come into the category that has means they have to isolate for 12 weeks, and are not supposed to leave the house so they are dependent on us, or other organisations, for deliveries of shopping or prescriptions, and they are more isolated than ever. The risk to their cared for is high if they contract the virus and we have seen this reflected in an increase in anxiety within our groups and are doing lots of Facetime calls and zoom group calls to try and alleviate this.
TESTIMONIAL: Recently one of our young adult adult carers mental health deteriorated. She self harmed needing hospital treatment, and after a couple of episodes of this took an overdose. Our transition worker maintained contact with her, located her and got her to hospital in time for there to be no permanent damage. Bright Futures team refer young adult carers to appropriate support specialist agencies, throughout their support Bright Futures have been a constant in their lives. In a note communicating thanks to the Transitions worker the young adult carer summed up how important this project is to the people we work with, she said "I cannot thank you enough for getting through to me and saving my life. When you first met me I was a mess, and completely lost. Just trying to get through every day, pushing everyone away because I didn't think anyone would stay long enough to help me. But you did and I can't tell you how grateful I am for EVERYTHING you have done for me. You've been my voice when I couldn't speak, protected me from other people and myself, took me to all my appointments, held my hand while I cried. And just been there for a hug or a chat when I've needed one! I'm 99.9% sure that one day all your work will pay off"
Continuing the project means we can support people who find their caring role too hard sometimes, we can take a little of that weight off their shoulders and allow them the room to breathe and see their own future. Being 16-25 can be tough even with a happy, healthy family with access to resources. Add in deprivation, health problems and rurality and these young adults can lose sight of how great their future could be. Please help us to ensure they can still achieve their hopes and dreams.