The Junction Foundation and Carers Together have been working on a project about how to better support Young Adult Carers (young people aged 16 to 25 years with a caring responsibility) in their successful transition to adulthood. The Mind the Gap Project, funded by NHS Improvement, Commitment to Carers Programme, worked with Young Adult Carers to identify what support would be needed to make a successful transition to adulthood and develop a Transitions Passport to better plan and communicate needs to a range of professionals. This will result in the launch of 'Next Steps' Transitions Service from 1 April 2022 provided by Carers Together and The Junction in Partnership. Here a Young Adult Carer from the project describes how involvement in the project has impacted them:
Tell us about yourself, and what being a carer means for you.
I've been a young carer since year 8 [12-13 years old] but never understood it and no one else did. When I joined the Junction it mean't I didn't feel alone. Being a carer for me hasn't been about the physical health of loved ones but the mental health side, and I realised it was becoming too much to handle on my own.
What changed as a result of the work? What was it like before?
As a result of being a part of the base camp event, it gave me a chance to lead a group. The transition passport has allowed me to understand that some struggles I have as a young carer are common and that making others aware of it can help bring solutions and understanding to things I find difficult. Before I found out people have similar struggles I felt alone in some of the difficult decisions I had to make. It also showed me different services that can be useful to people even if they aren't young carers.
Why is this change important, what has it meant for you?
When leading the group I felt comfortable and gave me a chance to feel confident leading a group. So it has improved my leadership skills and confidence which are very important to me. After finding out about some different services I was able to get help for other people, which has taken pressure off me. The transition passport should give people the opportunity to know more about young carers and give them a better understanding of the help they need.
Who else benefited from you identifying as a carer and accessing support?
When I started to access support it made things more manageable and I was able to become more understanding of my limits and was able to get the right services involved for family members.
What would have happened without this change?
Without the Mind the Gap project I would have never had the confidence to lead an activity. Mind the Gap has helped me gain a group of friends and improved my mental health. As if I didn't join in I think my mental health would have been negatively affected as before I felt quite isolated and alone.
Anything other comments?
Mind the Gap has eased my mind about transitioning in general whether that be from different jobs, college courses, or from different organisations/ charities. I'm looking forward to being able to use the passport because it will help my tutors and placement understand what support I need to achieve my potential.
If you are or know a Young Adult Carer who would benefit from support please contact The Junction Foundation (T: 01642 756000, E: firstname.lastname@example.org) or Carers Together (T: 01642 488977, E: email@example.com) who will be able to help.